News Feed 20130118

Financial Crisis
» Does This Look Like a Recovery?
» German Economy, Europe’s Last Hope, Begins to Slump
» How Big is “Big”?
» Italy: Bersani to Lower Taxes ‘If Possible’
» Italy: Bersani Rules Out New Wealth Tax, To Concentrate on Imu
» Italy: Spread Opens on 255
» The “Big Three” Banks Are Gambling With $860 Billion in Deposits
» The Great Systemic Rig of 2012 is Now Ending
 
USA
» 33-Year-Old Martin Luther King Charged in Jax Triple Shooting, 1 Death
» 47 States Revolt Against Obama Gun Control
» ACLU’s Communist Origins
» Additions to be Made to Gun Laws for Law Enforcement
» As NSA Pairs With Banks to “Fight Hackers”, Will it Also Gain Access to Every American’s Financial Secrets?
» Democrats See Political Opportunity in Newtown Deaths
» DHS Says Gun Owners Are Terrorists
» Django Unchained Movie Review
» Drill Characterizes “Disgruntled” Second Amendment Advocates as Terrorists
» Gun Control, Dick Act of 1902, Bills of Attainder and Ex Post Facto Laws
» Gun Permit Forms Question Possible Affiliation With “Anti-Government” Organizations
» Infowars Analysis of Obama’s War on Guns
» Interview With Cliff Kincaid: Stopping Al-Jazeera America
» Man Who Doesn’t ‘Believe’ In Guns Rescued From Armed Robbery by Two Good Samaritans With Guns
» Many More Sheriffs Vow Not to Enforce Federal Gun Control Laws
» Mayor Predicts “Waco-Style Standoff” In Response to Obama Gun Confiscation
» Obama’s Disgusting Use of Kids as Pawns
» Obama’s Gun Control is Not About Gun Control. Read This.
» Obama’s War Against Mental and Physical Health in America
» Obama Executive Orders Vastly Empower Psychiatry While Gutting Patient Rights
» Obama Warns Cameron Britain Must Stay in a ‘Strong EU’ Hours Before Algerian Hostage Crisis Forces PM to Abandon Big Speech
» Other Tyrants Who Have Used Children as Props
» Sen. Rand Paul on Executive Orders: ‘Obama May Have This King Complex Developing’
» The Truth Behind the Influenza Death Rates and the CDC Manipulation
» Treason? Obama’s Plans to Disarm America
» Video: Huffpost Parrots Communist Propaganda
» Video: New York Democrats Plan for Gun Confiscation
» West Point Center Cites Dangers of ‘Far Right’ In U.S.
 
Europe and the EU
» Italian Police Attacked 2,290 Times in 2012
» Italy: Police: Politicians Accused in Puglia Mafia Trials
» Italy: Actress: Showgirl Injured Parties in Berlusconi Case
» Italy: Former Parma Mayor Put Under House Arrest in Graft Probe
» Italy: Northern League Offices Searched in Milk Quota Probe
» Italy: Berlusconi-Led Coalition Closes Gap on Centre Left
» ‘Ndrangheta, Camorra Reap 70% of Mafia Revenues in Italy
» Raped and Left for Dead, Model Returns to Spain to See Attacker Jailed
» UK: Ethnic Cleansing in Rotherham — YouTube
» UK: Hooded ‘Muslim Patrol’ Vigilantes Remove Alcohol From Drinkers and Tell Women to Cover Up as They Stalk London Suburb
» UK: Is Red Ed the New Margaret Thatcher?… No. Miliband Shouldn’t be Allowed Within 100 Miles of Number 10 Downing Street
» UK: Police Hunt Sick Animal-Hater Who Has Been Scattering Cooked Sausages Spiked With Nails Across Dog Walking Areas
» UK: Pensioner is Hauled to Court After Taking His Air Rifle to a Squirrel
» UK: Scotland Yard Launch Criminal Investigation Into Historic Claims ‘Senior Aide of Former Prime Minister Had Links to Paedophile Ring’
 
North Africa
» Algeria: France Justifies Gov’t Handling of Hostage Crisis
» Algeria: Second Army Raid Ongoing, Unconfirmed Fatalities
» Algeria Desert Siege: 100 of 132 Foreign Hostages Freed
» Al-Nusra: A Jihadist Brigade That Scares Syrian Rebels
» Al-Zawahiri’s Brother Attends Anti-French Protest in Cairo
» American Hostages to Jihad in Algeria: 1640 to Present
» Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt on Rumor of Sexual Assault
» Saif Gaddafi Appears in Court Charged With Trying to Escape Jail and Insulting New Libyan Regime’s Flag
» Up to 12 Britons ‘Dead or Injured’ In Oil Plant Hostage Crisis: David Cameron Sends SAS and Hostage Negotiators to Algiers But Saharan State Still Refuses Help
 
Middle East
» Iran: A Muslim Who Converted to Christianity Risks the Death Penalty
 
South Asia
» India: Five Years After the Orissa Pogroms, Christians Still Live in Appalling Conditions
 
Far East
» Italy: Fiat Inks Deal With Mazda to Make Alfas in Japan
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Chinese Migration to Angola Tops 250,000
 
Immigration
» Are We Losing Our Country?
» Czech National Flew to Pakistan to Marry Three Times in Four Months in UK Immigration Scam
» UK: NHS is Too Generous to Migrants, Says GPs as Many Refuse to Treat Those Who Entered the Country Illegally
 
Culture Wars
» Casey Legler, The World’s First Female Model to be Signed to a Male Modelling Agency Lands Shoot for Allsaints … and She’s Modelling Men’s and Women’s Clothes
» Italian Play Based on Relationship Between Gay Fascist, Jew
» Vatican: Church Defends Freedom of Conscience Against the “Dictatorship of Relativism, “ Mgr Mamberti Says
 
General
» Dreamliner in Meltdown as Hi-Tech Boeing Jets Are Grounded in Europe and U.S. Amid Fears Its Electric ‘Car Batteries’ Can Trigger Fires
» Mohammed’s Greatest Discovery, Part 1

Financial Crisis

Does This Look Like a Recovery?

Now, I’m an optimistic guy… and there are plenty of good news stories around the world. But just looking at the numbers, it’s clear that there is a major disconnect between sentiment and reality.

On one hand, western governments and mainstream media sources tell people that their economies are recovering and moving forward. Sentiment is high, confidence is growing.

Unfortunately the data show a completely different story:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

German Economy, Europe’s Last Hope, Begins to Slump

German economy, Europe’s last hope, begins to slump. Despite a drumbeat of optimistic forecasts from economists and upbeat statements from various European leaders, the actual news on the economy continues to be grim, with figures released Tuesday showing that Germany, the continent’s flagship economy, contracted by about 0.5% in the final months of last year.

Combined with a flurry of disappointing results in other major economies, the stumble raised questions about Europe’s ability to escape recession.

Portugal’s central bank cut its economic forecast for the year on Tuesday, saying its economy will contract more steeply than expected. France said it was likely to miss its target for narrowing the budget deficit, raising the prospects of deeper spending cuts and additional taxes. Last month, Britain said its austerity budgets would extend three extra years, to 2018, because of weaker than expected growth.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How Big is “Big”?

“Repression” is what Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Fed, called “the injustice of being held hostage to large financial institutions considered ‘too big to fail.’“ He sketched out the destructive impact of these TBTF banks that, as “everyone and their sister knows,” were “at the epicenter” of the financial crisis — “whose owners, managers, and customers believe themselves to be exempt from the processes of bankruptcy and creative destruction.” These banks “capture the financial upside” of their bets but are bailed out when things go wrong, he said, “in violation of one of the basic tenets of market capitalism.”

In his speech, “Ending ‘Too Big to Fail’: A Proposal for Reform Before It’s Too Late,” he offered a “simple” plan that would allow the nation to come to grips with these banks. But in the process, he did something else: he defined BIG.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bersani to Lower Taxes ‘If Possible’

Centre-left leader also wants to boost investment

(ANSA) — Rome, January 18 — Democratic Party (Pd) leader and centre-left candidate for premier Pier Luigi Bersani on Friday said that a future centre-left government would lower taxes if the situation allowed.

“If there are the margins to do it I think it is necessary to reduce fiscal pressure, starting with work, pensions, personal income tax, the lowest income levels, and boost investment,” Bersani said in an interview with Radio 24 of Italy’s leading business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

Italians are due to vote for a new parliament at the end of February.

Currently a PD-led centre-left coalition is leading the polls followed by a centre-right formation led by the People of Freedom (PdL) party of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and a smaller centrist grouping promoted by the outgoing technocrat Premier Mario Monti.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bersani Rules Out New Wealth Tax, To Concentrate on Imu

‘I’m no Robespierre’ says PD leader

(ANSA) — Rome, January 18 — Democratic Party (PD) leader and centre-left candidate for premier Pier Luigi Bersani on Friday clarified his position over the possible introduction of a controversial wealth tax, saying that his coalition would concentrate on reforming the existing IMU property tax introduced by the technocrat government of Mario Monti.

“I do not intend to be a Robespierre,” Bersani told Radio 24 of Italy’s leading business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore in reference to the French revolutionary who instituted a reign of terror. “We already have a wealth tax and it is IMU,” he continued. “We want to work on this, making it progressive in support of those in greatest difficulty”.

The introduction of a wealth tax has been at the centre of public debate since Monti took office to try to save the struggling economy in November 2011. Such a tax has broad support among left-wing politicians but meets with opposition from moderate members of the centre-left and the centre-right.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Spread Opens on 255

Yield down to 4.18%

(ANSA) — Rome, January 18 — The yield spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds, a gauge of market confidence in Italy’s ability to pay down its debt, opened Friday on 255.2 points, down from 258 at Thursday’s close.

The yield edged down to 4.18%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The “Big Three” Banks Are Gambling With $860 Billion in Deposits

A week ago, when Wells Fargo unleashed the so far quite disappointing earnings season for commercial banks (connected hedge funds like Goldman Sachs excluded) we reported that the bank’s deposits had risen to a record $176 billion over loans on its books. Today we conduct the same analysis for the other big two commercial banks: Wells Fargo and JPMorgan (we ignore Citi as it is still a partially nationalized disaster). The results are presented below, together with a rather stunning observation…

And this is how the consolidated deposit and loan data for the Big Three banks looks: some $858 billion, or nearly half of the $2 trillion in total excess deposits over loans in the entire US commercial banking system (speaking of Too Big To Fail).

Why is all of the above important? Because as we have explained repeatedly in the past several weeks, the “excess deposit cash over loans” is nothing more or less than additional prop trading capital, that banks can use as they see fit. The traditional regulatory explanation is that the cash is to be used for safe, responsible investment. Alas, as the JPM CIO debacle taught us, said cash is used for anything but, and is in fact used to fund prop trading operations deep inside these commercial banks.

But don’t take our word for it. Take the word of the Task Force charged with explaining away the 2012 CIO Losses, released yesterday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Great Systemic Rig of 2012 is Now Ending

Europe’s banking system has been on the ropes for years.

It’s a little known fact that the largest recipients of US bailouts were in fact foreign banks based in Europe. Also bear in mind that the biggest beneficiaries of QE 2 were European banks. Things got so bad in mid-2012 that the whole system lurched towards collapse. The only thing that pulled the EU back from the brink was Mario Draghi’s promise of unlimited bond buying (a promise and nothing more as the EU has yet to do any of this).

However, these efforts, like all cover?ups, will not last. Indeed, by the look of things, Europe’s banking system is breaking down again….

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USA

33-Year-Old Martin Luther King Charged in Jax Triple Shooting, 1 Death

1 of 3 men shot last week in Northwest Jacksonville dies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Police in Jacksonville have arrested 33-year-old Martin Luther King on a murder charge and two counts of aggravated assault after they said he shot three men last week, killing one.

Andrew Stephens, 36, was initially said to be in life-threatening condition after the Jan. 9 shooting at West 25th Street and Spires Avenue. He died later that day at a hospital, according to a police report obtained Thursday.

Investigators said the victims were playing dominoes in a vacant lot when King drove up, got out of a car with an assault rifle and mask and started shooting.

Police said he opened fired from the opposite side of the street where the three victims were sitting. Of the two others shot, another also suffered life-threatening injuries, and both survived.

Two other homes were struck by the gunfire, police said.

Police said King was looking for payback after someone shot up his wife’s grandmother’s house on Christmas Day, and he believed one of the men who was wounded was involved.

King told a witness about the shootings, and that witness came forward and told police information that led to the identity of the suspect. In addition, one of the victims saw King take his mask off after the shootings, police said.

King made his first appearance in court Thursday. He’s being held in the Duval County jail without bail.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

47 States Revolt Against Obama Gun Control

Fed-up Americans: ‘We’re not going to accept this. We’re against it’

Thousands of gun owners across America have had enough of the Obama administration’s attack on the Second Amendment — and they’re preparing to take their concerns to the capitols in at least 47 states this Saturday, Jan. 19, at 12 p.m.

Texan Eric Reed, founder and national coordinator of the “Guns Across America” rallies, told WND he’s irritated about all the talk of new gun-control regulations and overreach by the federal government in violation of our Second Amendment rights.

“I was trying to figure out why people weren’t being more proactive about this, Reed said. “Then I realized I’m part of the problem. It takes somebody to stand up and say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to accept this. We’re against it.’

“We want Americans who feel the same way to come out. We want to stand up, be united and get our point across.”

Comment from Devvy Kidd (www.devvy.com/):

That’s nice, but where’s your plan? Do you have a working paper with critical supporting legal information to reconstitute the constitutional militia?

I know those folks are sincere, but what good does a rally do? Ask your legislature to protect your Second Amendment rights? Where is the teeth in that?

Constitutional Militia is not the National Guard. See Devvy.com for more information.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

ACLU’s Communist Origins

The origins of the American Civil Liberties Union are deeply entangled with Communism. Not the idealistic “liberals in a hurry” stuff of fellow-travelling fairy tale, but the bloody-minded sedition and revolutionary terror of hard historical reality.

[ACLU founder Roger] Baldwin’s radicalism caught the eye of the FBI, which quoted him in a 1924 report as having said: “The right to advocate a violent revolution, assassination, and proletarian Red guard, are all clearly within scope of free speech …”

The ACLU founder traveled to Stalin’s Russia in 1927 and wrote a book titled “Liberty Under The Soviets” the following year, which defended the Lenin’s and Stalin’s repression of dissent because they “are weapons in the transition to socialism.”

[Comment: before suppression of dissent, populations were disarmed.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Additions to be Made to Gun Laws for Law Enforcement

NEW YORK (WABC) — A troubling oversight has been found within New York State’s sweeping new gun laws.

The ban on having high-capacity magazines, as it’s written, would also include law enforcement officers.

Magazines with more than seven rounds will be illegal under the new law when that part takes effect in March.

As the statute is currently written, it does not exempt law enforcement officers.

Nearly every law enforcement agency in the state carries hand guns that have a 15 round capacity.

A spokesman for the governor’s office called Eyewitness News to say, “We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included, currently no police officer is in violation.”

The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President released a statement saying, “The PBA is actively working to enact changes to this law that will provide the appropriate exemptions from the law for active and retired law enforcement officers.”

State Senator Eric Adams, a former NYPD Captain, told us he’s going to push for an amendment next week to exempt police officers from the high-capacity magazine ban. In his words, “You can’t give more ammo to the criminals”

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

As NSA Pairs With Banks to “Fight Hackers”, Will it Also Gain Access to Every American’s Financial Secrets?

Just because there was not enough encroachment by the government into virtually every corner of private life, here is another “collaboration” that will further enmesh big brother into every aspect of private life, in this case private financial life, because as the WaPo reports, “major U.S. banks have turned to the National Security Agency for help protecting their computer systems after a barrage of assaults that have disrupted their Web sites, according to industry officials. The attacks on the sites, which started about a year ago but intensified in September, have grown increasingly sophisticated, officials said. The NSA, the world’s largest electronic spying agency, has been asked to provide technical assistance to help banks further assess their systems and to better understand the attackers’ tactics.”

And while we salute the great diversionary pretext that “Iranian hackers” pose a greater risk to the stability of the US financial system than, say, the ongoing monetization of US debt at a pace of $85 billion per month, which has made the Fed’s DV01 rise to a mindboggling $2.75 billion, or idiot pundits who claim all American problems can be resolved with one coin, we can’t help but wonder what happens when the most intrusive of US spy agencies, one which as reported last year is free “to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store” virtually every electronic communication in the entire world, now has full explicit access to all bank data, and, incidentally, every American’s financial snapshot at any given moment?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Democrats See Political Opportunity in Newtown Deaths

Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania Governor and influential Democrat, drew no gasps of surprise or shocked response from his fellow liberal travelers when he recently articulated the left’s position that “the good thing about Newtown is, it was so horrific that I think it galvanized Americans to a point where the intensity on our side is going to match the intensity on their side.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS Says Gun Owners Are Terrorists

Following Obama’s choreographed attack on the Second Amendment earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will join the administration, the Justice Department and the FBI in a renewed attack on firearms.

Under the guise of preventing what is largely unpreventable short of disarming the entire country — eliminating “active shooter” situations — DHS boss Janet Napolitano announced on Wednesday she will work to “identify measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of mass casualty shootings,” in other words, disarming law-abiding gun owners.

The DHS is not dedicated to preventing “future mass casualty shootings,” as Napolitano recently stated, but is assigned the critical task of attacking political enemies considered a threat to the globalist status quo. From lurid fictional claims about “rightwing extremists” to shepherding a national effort to undermine and destroy an idealistic Occupy movement, the DHS has repeatedly demonstrated that it is a political secret police.

The “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” document leaked to the alternative media in 2009 set the stage for demonizing gun owners and Second Amendment advocates in addition to a panoply of other political groups derisively tagged as “rightwing extremist” by the government.

It is now obvious what is going on in the wake of Sandy Hook — the establishment is finally pulling out the last remaining stops in its long envisioned disarmament of the American people in accord with its ultimate plan to usher in a one-world government and financial system. A well-armed and educated populace prevents the global elite from realizing this objective.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Django Unchained Movie Review

You have only to consider what audiences would make of a film that enthusiastically praised the ethnic cleansing of black people by whites, to realise there’s a kind of inverse racism going on here.

And Tarantino still isn’t any good at deepening character. The relationship between Django and his wife is fumbled badly.

It’s the relationship between the two bounty hunters that drives the picture, and blatantly the only human contact in which the director is really interested.

Tarantino remains fatally obsessed with pastiche. His film is a loose remake of a little-seen 1966 film, the spaghetti-western Django. But the inferior second half borrows most obviously from Mandingo, a 1975 exploitation film notorious for its bad taste.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Drill Characterizes “Disgruntled” Second Amendment Advocates as Terrorists

A safety exercise involving police, national guard and emergency management officials in Portsmouth, Ohio was centered around the premise that individuals “disgruntled over the government’s interpretation of the Second Amendment” plotted to use weapons of mass destruction to terrorize the local community.

The exercise, which took place yesterday, was run by the Ohio Army National Guard 52nd Civil Support Unit, Scioto County first responders as well as local law enforcement.

The portrayal of pro-second amendment advocates as violent terrorists is sure to raise some eyebrows amidst a national debate about gun control following the Sandy Hook school massacre.

However, as we have exhaustively documented in the past, this is by no means the first time that Americans with constitutionalist political views have been demonized as dangerous radicals by both federal and state authorities in the context of so-called safety drills.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gun Control, Dick Act of 1902, Bills of Attainder and Ex Post Facto Laws

The latest round of rubbish flooding our in boxes is an ignorant rant claiming that the Dick Act of 1902 (which respects our Right to be armed) can’t be repealed because to do so would “violate bills of attainder and ex post facto laws.”…

Our Framers were all for an armed American People — they understood that arms are our ultimate defense in the event the federal government oversteps its bounds. See, e.g., what James Madison, Father of Our Constitution, writes in the second half of Federalist Paper No. 46! The reason the Citizens — the Militia — are armed is to defend ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, communities, and States from an overreaching, tyrannical federal government.

Furthermore, the federal government is nowhere in the Constitution granted authority to restrict, in any fashion whatsoever, guns, ammunition, etc. Thus, ALL laws made by Congress, ALL regulations made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco (BAFT), are unconstitutional as outside the scope of the powers granted to Congress and to the Executive Branch by our Constitution. Regulation of arms and ammunition is NOT one of the “enumerated powers” delegated to Congress or the Executive Branch.

Furthermore, all pretended regulations made by the BAFT are also unconstitutional as in violation of Art. I, Sec. 1, U.S. Constitution, which vests ALL legislative powers granted by the Constitution in CONGRESS. Executive agencies have no lawful authority whatsoever to make rules or regulations of general application to The People!

[…]

And the assertion that Congress can’t repeal the Dick Act because a repeal would “violate bills of attainder and ex post facto laws” shows that whoever wrote that doesn’t know what he is talking about. He obviously has no idea what a “bill of attainder” is, and no idea what an “ex post facto law” is.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gun Permit Forms Question Possible Affiliation With “Anti-Government” Organizations

In good old McCarthy-style questioning, several state- and local firearm permit application-forms have — besides questioning potential alcohol- and drug-use and previous criminal convictions — included the question whether the applicant is, or has ever been, part of an organization “advocating”, or “approving” a violent overthrow of the United States government.

In the South-Carolina concealed weapons permit application several questions are being put to the applicant. Among the questions asked, the following one jumps out:

“Are you a member of any group with a purpose to control, seize or overthrow the government of the United States, any state or political subdivision by any means?”

The same question is being put to applicants from New Jersey, albeit in a more elaborate way (question 28):

“Are you presently, or have you ever been a member of any organization which advocates or approves the commission of acts of force and violence, either to overthrow the Government of the United States or of this State, or which seeks to deny others their rights under the Constitution of either the United States or the State of New Jersey? If yes, list name and address of organization(s).”

Although it’s standard practice to pose such questions in application-forms for government positions and jobs relating to law enforcement, putting forward these kinds of questions for gun permits seems somehow to undermine the reason why the Second Amendment was included in the US Constitution in the first place. After all, the Second Amendment was not intended for hunting-purposes or shooting empty cans from garden tables. The right to own a firearm is, among other things, intended to make sure the people arm themselves in case government turns tyrannical.

As Kurt Nimmo wrote in his July 26, 2012 article Second Amendment: It’s Not About Hunting, It’s About Tyranny:

“Obama supporters and other lovers of the state recoil at the prospect of armed resistance to a tyrannical centralized federal government and refuse to accept that this is what the Second Amendment is all about.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Infowars Analysis of Obama’s War on Guns

Barack Obama’s bold use of executive orders to ‘take action without Congress’ amounts to an outrageous unconstitutional overreach of powers, and is impeachable action on its face. And Obama isn’t even done; he has vowed to push Congress on a new assault weapons ban along with other legislative restrictions on the guaranteed Second Amendment, which “shall not be infringed.”

But worse, the 23 executive orders issued by Obama make clear that the vast medical bureaucracy centralized under ObamaCare will be used to profile and harass Americans in order to disqualify them for gun ownership based on “mental health” history.

At least 7 of the 23 executive orders relate to mental health reporting that includes “clarifying” the role of doctors and health care providers in “asking their patients about guns in the home,” reporting “threats of violence” to authorities, and screening for “mental health” will create the backbone for a “no buy” list that disbars Constitutional rights from flagged individuals without due process. At least 8 executive orders relate to new rules on background checks and weapons sales & ownership restrictions.

The numbers on the list relate to the summaries of the executive orders reported earlier today by the Washington Times. The titles used are shorthand language by this author, with a fuller reference in the cited article.

[Comment: Good summary of the executive orders and their implications.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Interview With Cliff Kincaid: Stopping Al-Jazeera America

Editor’s Note: The following is an interview that AIM’s Cliff Kincaid gave to RadicalIslam.org National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro. The introduction and interview are included in their entirety.

Cliff Kincaid is the president of America’s Survival, Inc. and the director of the Accuracy in Media (AIM) Center for Investigative Journalism. AIM set up a website, StopAlJazeera.org, to stop the Islamist television network that is based in Qatar from coming to the U.S.

Kincaid calls Al-Jazeera an “enemy propaganda network that has served as a mouthpiece for terrorist groups” including Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the extremist spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has his own show on Al-Jazeera.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Man Who Doesn’t ‘Believe’ In Guns Rescued From Armed Robbery by Two Good Samaritans With Guns

(NaturalNews) He doesn’t own a firearm and says he “doesn’t believe” in guns at all. But now he’s grateful a couple of other locals did not share his values.

According to Houston-area station KHOU-11, the man had just been victimized at gunpoint by a robber when a pair of good Samaritans came to his rescue recently.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Many More Sheriffs Vow Not to Enforce Federal Gun Control Laws

Oregon law enforcers lead national fight against Obama gun grab

Following Oregon Sheriff Tim Mueller’s lead, three more Sheriffs in parts of Oregon announced Wednesday in letters to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that they would refuse to enforce any federal gun laws that are unconstitutional.

Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley told local reporters “I’m going to follow my oath that I took as Sheriff to support the constitution.”

“I believe strongly in the Second Amendment,” Hensley added, urging “If the federal government comes into Crook County and wants to take firearms and things away from (citizens), I’m going to tell them it’s not going that way.”

Hensley told KTVZ.COM that he read Sheriff Mueller’s letter and it spurred him to make a stand. “I said, you know what? It’s a clear statement. He hit the nail right on the head,” Hensley said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mayor Predicts “Waco-Style Standoff” In Response to Obama Gun Confiscation

Expressing his opposition to the New York SAFE Act, Gloversville Mayor Dayton King has sensationally warned that any federal gun confiscation program could lead to a “Waco-style standoff” in rural areas of America.

“Most people are law-abiding citizens and may go ahead and sell those or turn those over, but you’re going to have a fraction of people that are going to take a stand, and I can just predict a Waco-style standoff in some rural area and it’s not going to end well,” Mayor King told Fox 23 News.

During the Waco siege in April 1993, after failing to execute a search warrant against the Branch Davidians, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) burned down the Mount Carmel Center, slaughtering seventy-six men, women and children.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Disgusting Use of Kids as Pawns

Diana West hits BHO for using human emotions ‘to drive his own power grab’

Not one of the 23 executive orders President Obama signed — flanked by schoolchildren whom none of us want to see murdered and before an audience that included relatives of murdered schoolchildren — would have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook.

Did the main idea of the sentence above come through — that the president’s latest orders would not have stopped the heavily armed monster who entered a Connecticut school last month and killed 20 children and six adults? Or was your brain overwhelmed by anxiety signals arising from the imagery of vulnerable youngsters?

The overwhelming imagery is no accident. It’s emotional manipulation, and I’ve never seen a more lowdown exercise of it than the White House’s “gun violence” event this week. What President Obama put the nation through was the propaganda equivalent of a slasher movie, a disgustingly crude attempt to jam our emotional buttons and frighten us into surrendering more of our rights to live free of centralized government surveillance and control.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Gun Control is Not About Gun Control. Read This.

In essence what is being proposed is to alter and further conditioning of your future generations. You see they already know total control is unachievable for our generation. All this is meant as total RESTRICTION FOR MOVEMENT for your children. Your children are the ones who are going to be victims of your inaction.

There really is no point in stressing anymore because it is guaranteed almost 99% out there will never actually read the specifics hidden behind those nicely worded, politically correct clauses. I mean as it is we are the generation of fools who don’t like to read anything anymore. They have stupefied you by means of iPads, internet and TVs so as not to react when the real SHTF gets implemented for your next generation. If you’re that lazy to read, just copy the document into Word and do a FIND (CNTRL+F) to find the main points (see running commentary below). Always remember to read between the lines — don’t fall for politically correct niceties…

Now coming back to the document: The document states the following:

Background Checks on Gun Sales:

Anyone who is classified with a criminal record (this could be even you with a speeding ticket /DUI) will not be allowed by the system to own a gun.

The document says:

“Addressing unnecessary legal barriers in HEALTH LAWS that prevent some states from making information available about those prohibited from having guns”

What do those words “health laws” mean? It means that if you have taken anti-depressants, your doctor can declare you unfit to own a gun. Do you see where this is going? It is not about just taking your gun. It is to further impose restrictions in movement, decision-making and your God-given freewill to decide for yourself. It is restriction in freedom.

Next —

“Improving Mental Health Services”

“Make sure students with signs of mental illness get referred (by teachers) to treatment:

So that means children can be sent straight to the school’s recently hired covert “psychiatrist” without any parental consent. And if the “psychiatrist” wants the child to be dependent on Xanax and Prozac. Hey, more sales for pharma and more insurance sales on Obamacare (whoopee doodah). And more sales for mental healthcare system Obama is now proposing.

Oh but you thought this was all about gun-control, right?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s War Against Mental and Physical Health in America

America we must stand now! Obama’s announcement about deputizing Mental Health professionals and Doctors in general regarding guns and their patients is beyond dangerous — beyond unethical — beyond legal and beyond the U.S. Constitution. It will create much more danger and promote killings because the people who actually need treatment in the early stages of a dangerous cycle won’t seek treatment. They will just quietly get worse and worse and then go drive into a schoolyard, poison their boss or steal a gun and kill a bunch of people from a tower somewhere.

I am a national talk show host and have an earned Ph.D. in Counseling from Oregon State University. My emphasis and original research was in alcohol and drugs with female alcoholics and I have been a crisis counselor for over 20 years, while building a talk radio career and raising a family http://www.therothshow.com. I am a mental health expert with a Ph.D. a talk show host and a proud gun owner. This is war against me as a gun owner and war against me as a mental health provider

Dictator Obama not only uses children to hide behind, but now mental health professionals and Doctors of all kinds. They are to be his new spies to get guns and gun rights from law-abiding citizens. Now, the ‘deputized’ mental health professionals and Doctors of all kinds are to ask about guns in the home and questions that would target any ‘violent’ tendency, depression, fear, perhaps an episode of spousal abuse or vandalism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Executive Orders Vastly Empower Psychiatry While Gutting Patient Rights

(NaturalNews) The history of psychiatry has been one of egregious abuses against its patients. The several-hundred year history of the state mental hospital system is proof of that. Until the states found the giant lockups too expensive and began arbitrarily throwing the inmates out, millions of people were deprived of their liberty and all human amenities, humiliated, abused, and finally tortured with treatments like lobotomy, insulin comma, and shock treatment. The only reason we don’t have thousands of lobotomies being perpetrated yearly in America today is that I took several years out of my life to fight against organized psychiatry to stop the return of psychosurgery in the early 1970s.

Psychiatry has always sought increasing control over its patients and resisted any attempt to increase patient rights. Although the size of the state hospitals has declined, organized psychiatry has found another way to treat people against their will. Untold numbers of citizens in 44 states are subjected to outpatient commitment. They can live in their own homes and walk about in the community, but if they don’t show up at the clinic for their regular long-acting shots of brain-paralyzing antipsychotic drugs, they can be forced back into the hospital or thrown down and injected with drugs inside their homes.

In the last several decades, psychiatry has joined forces with the pharmaceutical industry and the result is the mass drugging of adults and children. With a huge influx of money from the drug companies, psychiatry has enormously increased its influence in the government and society.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Warns Cameron Britain Must Stay in a ‘Strong EU’ Hours Before Algerian Hostage Crisis Forces PM to Abandon Big Speech

Barack Obama last night warned Britain must remain part of a ‘strong European Union’ as David Cameron raised the prospect of ‘drifting towards the exit’.

The US President used a call to London to stress the EU’s role in spreading ‘peace, prosperity, and security’ around the world.

The warning from the White House against Britain severing ties with Brussels came hours before Mr Cameron dramatically called off his long-awaited Europe speech to deal with the Algeria hostage crisis.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Other Tyrants Who Have Used Children as Props

Obama’s shameless exploitation of children as set pieces is hardly new or original. In fact, tyrants and dictators have used kids as props down through the ages.

Here are a few more recent examples:

[Add to the list: Saddam Hussain patting the head of the small American boy on TV.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sen. Rand Paul on Executive Orders: ‘Obama May Have This King Complex Developing’

(CNSNews.com) — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), arguing that President Barack Obama may be developing a “king complex,” said that he plans to introduce a bill next week that “will nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation.”

Paul said Obama has “a history of arrogance” in trying to legislate from the Oval Office. He mentioned Obama seeking a cap-and-trade program “through regulatory fiat” and ordering U.S. military strikes on Libya without congressional authority.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Truth Behind the Influenza Death Rates and the CDC Manipulation

(NaturalNews) In the last few weeks there has been significant talk of the so called “flu epidemic” that is sweeping the nation. The majority of what you’re hearing about in the media deals with death rates from the disease. Along with these details comes an assortment of statistical analysis from every big name organization you can think of. However, how accurate are the statistics and what is the truth behind the flu related deaths the media scares us with? (The following information was taken directly from the governmental website for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Treason? Obama’s Plans to Disarm America

The Obama Administration’ s number one priority is the destruction of US defensive capability. If this is allowed to occur, the United States and indeed the entire West, will be at the mercy of the combined military might of Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, radical Islam and all of their growing army of allies.

Of course, all these sworn enemies of the United States would never use that overwhelming advantage to obliterate a disarmed America would they? And the Lion is about to lie down with the Lamb?

If Obama succeeds and America loses its military edge over its enemies, there is very little chance of recovery. A military rebuild would take many years with a healthy economy. How long might it take after Obama has wreaked four more years of economic havoc? Where is the infrastructure, the skill base?

When they finally have America just where they want her, will the rulers of Russia, China and Iran sit on their hands and allow the Unites States to slowly rebuild its military?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: Huffpost Parrots Communist Propaganda

Huffington Post “ debate” moderator, Alyona Minkovski (ex-Kremlin propaganda channel Russia Today), discusses communism in today’ s America with two Communist Party USA leaders, a socialist blogger and one brave conservative commentator…

To the public, the Communist Party USA tries to appear moderate and even occasionally at odds with Obama and the Democrats. In reality, the Communists and Democrats are working hand in glove, mainly through the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

To their own membership, the communists emphasize their commonality and call Obama their “ friend.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: New York Democrats Plan for Gun Confiscation

Democrats in New York ran for cover in response to fallout after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said confiscation is the goal of new gun laws introduced in the state legislature. “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option,” Cuomo said in December.

The plan was shelved after it was estimated it would cost over a billion dollars to “buyback” around a million so-called assault weapons in the state.

“The cost of confiscation would make it impracticable, if there’s anything approaching a million of them, putting aside the other issues that would be involved,’’ a Cuomo administration source told the New York Post.

But despite the budget-busting cost of a mandatory buyback, Democrats in the state are determined to confiscate firearms from law-abiding New Yorkers, as the video below demonstrates.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

West Point Center Cites Dangers of ‘Far Right’ In U.S.

By Rowan Scarborough

A West Point think tank has issued a paper warning America about “far right” groups such as the “anti-federalist” movement, which supports “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.”

The report issued this week by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is titled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.”

The center — part of the institution where men and women are molded into Army officers — posted the report Tuesday. It lumps limited government activists with three movements it identifies as “a racist/white supremacy movement, an anti-federalist movement and a fundamentalist movement.”

The West Point center typically focuses reports on al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists attempting to gain power in Asia, the Middle East and Africa through violence.

But its latest study turns inward and paints a broad brush of people it considers “far right.”

It says anti-federalists “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government. Extremists in the anti-federalist movement direct most their violence against the federal government and its proxies in law enforcement.”

The report also draws a link between the mainstream conservative movement and the violent “far right,” and describes liberals as “future oriented” and conservatives as living in the past…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Italian Police Attacked 2,290 Times in 2012

Aggressor drunk or high 35% of the time

(ANSA) — Forli’, January 18 — Police officers in Italy experienced 2,290 attacks in 2012, traffic police association Asaps said on Friday.

The figure was 2.7% more than in 2011 and refers to attacks perpetrated against street police and other law officers. In 22.6% of cases the attack involved the use of a weapon and in 35% of cases perpetrators were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the association that has monitored the phenomenon of violence directed at the police for the last decade. In 43.9% of cases the attack was perpetrated by a non-Italian.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Police: Politicians Accused in Puglia Mafia Trials

Violence, fraud, extortion, usury, weapons charges

(ANSA) — Bari, January 16 — Nine people were ordered Wednesday to stand trial in April on charges arising from an alleged plot between the Puglian mafia, local political leaders and businesspeople in the town of Altamura near Bari.

Charges range from violence to extortion, usury, illegal possession and use of firearms and explosions, and fraud.

Two police officers are among those accused of assisting the mafia in the case that also involves local politicians and lawyers.

Puglia’s Sacra Corona Unita (United Holy Crown) is Italy’s fourth and smallest mafia after the Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra, the Naples-based Camorra and the Calabrian-based ‘Ndrangheta.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Actress: Showgirl Injured Parties in Berlusconi Case

‘Freedom, human dignity’ harmed in ‘prostitution cover-up’

(ANSA) — Bari, January 16 — Italian actress Manuela Arcuri and showgirl Sara Tommasi are among 26 injured parties in a prostitution case in which former premier Silvio Berlusconi is a defendant, court filings showed Wednesday. Prosecutors are investigating claims that Giampaolo Tarantini, an entrepreneur from Bari, attempted to extort money from Berlusconi, at the time still Italy’s premier, in exchange for telling prosecutors that Berlusconi had no idea the girls at parties held in his Rome residence in 2008 and 2009 were paid escorts.

Many of the other injured parties are professional escorts.

In a statement, the judge called the women victims whose “freedom and human dignity” had been harmed. A preliminary hearing is scheduled February 8.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Former Parma Mayor Put Under House Arrest in Graft Probe

Accused of corruption, misappropriation of public money

(ANSA) — Parma, January 16 — The former mayor Parma, Pietro Vignali, was among four people placed under house-arrest on Wednesday in a graft probe.

Pietro Vignali, a 44-year-old who served as mayor of Parma from 2007 to 2011 on the centre-right ticket, is accused of misappropriation of public money and corruption. Investigators believe he illegally used city money for electoral-campaign spending and was involved in relatives and friends obtaining jobs in public bodies.

From 2001 to 2007, Vignali was Parma’s executive councillor for environment and transportation. He was forced to resign on September 28, 2011 after a number of city officials and members of his city executive were implicated in a corruption probe.

Vignali’s resignation led to early elections in May 2012 won by Parma’s current mayor, Federico Pizzarotti, a member of comedian Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Offices Searched in Milk Quota Probe

Dairy co-op suspected of bribery, corruption

(ANSA) — Milan, January 16 — Italian finance police have raided the Milan and Turin offices of the regionalist Northern League for members who are suspected of taking bribes from dairy farmers. Late Tuesday, police confiscated evidence in connection to an investigation into a dairy co-op called La Lombarda that went bankrupt with 80 million euros in debt. Police suspect managers of the co-op were paying bribes to public officials and politicians who would intervene on their behalf to delay fines for exceeding European Union milk-production quotas.

In particular, prosecutors questioned the League’s Milan-based administrative secretary Daniela Cantamessa and its Turin secretary Loredana Zola, whose homes were also searched. Northern League founder Umberto Bossi and current leader Roberto Maroni were present at the time of the search in Milan, as were other party bigwigs. Bossi’s son Renzo was also reportedly questioned Tuesday. Bossi and the League, which has faced a slew of corruption charges in the last year, were instrumental in putting off milk-quota fines when the party was a key political ally to Silvio Berlusconi during his last term in office, which ended in November 2011. “The League has nothing to do with the investigation,” said Maroni. “It regards a company that has nothing to do with the League. They haven’t found anything…We’re a third party and therefore the issue is closed”.

(photo: Northern League founder Umberto Bossi)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi-Led Coalition Closes Gap on Centre Left

Grillo’s M5S in third place followed by Monti grouping

(ANSA) — Rome, January 18 — The centre-right coalition led by ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party closed the gap on the centre-left on Friday, less than six weeks before Italians were due to go to the polls to elect their new parliament.

The centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party (Pd) and its secretary Pier Luigi Bersani continued to top the weekly SWG opinion poll at 33%.

However this was a 1.9% drop over the same day last week due to a fall in support for both the Pd and its main ally, Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) of Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola.

The centre-right coalition came in at 27.2%, compared with 25.3% last week — a 1.9% gain.

The rise in support was largely due to a 2% increase in the popularity of PdL, which offset a slight drop in support for its regionalist coalition partner Northern League. The centrist grouping led by outgoing technocrat Premier Mario Monti remained stable at 13.7%, just over three percentage points behind the populist and anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) of Genoa comedian Beppe Grillo.

After weeks of negative performance by the M5S a 0.9% rise in popularity took it to 16.8%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Ndrangheta, Camorra Reap 70% of Mafia Revenues in Italy

50% of ‘Ndrangheta wealth garnered in north

(ANSA) — Milan, January 16 — The Calabrian mafia ‘Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra together rake in nearly 70% of all organized-crime revenues in Italy, according to a study commissioned by the Italian interior ministry and presented at a conference in Milan on Wednesday.

The study, called the Mafia Presence Index (IPM), provides an assessment of mafia presence across Italy and was carried out by the Transcrime Inter-university Centre of the Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, headed by professor Ernesto Savona. The study found that Sicily’s Cosa Nostra ranked a distant third to the ‘Ndrangheta and Camorra in terms of revenues from organized crime, garnering 18% of the national total.

Roughly 50% of ‘Ndrangheta’s revenue is raised in northern Italy, the study found, whereas other mafia groups tend to concentrate business activities in their territory of origin. ‘Ndrangheta receives an estimated 23% of its revenues from its native Calabria, but nets 21% and 16% in Piedmont and Lombardy, respectively. It also has significant business activities in Emilia-Romagna, Lazio and Liguria.

In an examination of 19,987 assets seized from mafia suspects from 1983 to 2011, more than half — or 52.3% — were real estate properties. Other physical assets and equities accounted for 18.4% and 8.7% of the total, respectively.

In terms of businesses, criminals preferred to invest in limited companies, which made up 46% of total business investments. Only 2% of mafia-linked business investments were made in listed companies.

The mafia groups tended to take stakes in low technology enterprises, especially wholesale and retail firms, which constituted 29.4% of the total and construction, which made up 28.8%. Crime bosses’ third favorite category was hospitality. Hotels and restaurants together made up 10.5% of all mafia-linked businesses seized.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Raped and Left for Dead, Model Returns to Spain to See Attacker Jailed

A model who was raped and left for dead in Magaluf has returned to Spain to face her attacker in court.

Cheryl Maddison moved from Houghton-le-Spring to Majorca for work but days after she arrived she was raped and stabbed after being followed home.

She suffered multiple stab wounds and a collapsed lung, and the attack only came to an end when she pretended to be dead.

A neighbour heard her cries but thought it was a couple having an argument so chose not to call the police.

The 25-year-year collapsed outside her apartment in a pool of her own blood following the attack.

Moroccan waiter Mohamed Fadel el Anssari, 31, is alleged to have raped the 25-year-old before stabbing her and leaving her for dead in May 2008.

Miss Maddison flew to the island this week to give evidence in court against the man accused of attacking her…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK: Ethnic Cleansing in Rotherham — YouTube

This is a pattern of behaviour that has been described repeatedly by Europeans living in Muslim-colonised areas: the Muslims harass the Europeans to try and drive them out of their home so they can purchase it and islamise the areas further. Here is a previous account of a different but similar case here. The video above is from the BNP and shows a first-person account of the harassment in Muslim-enriched Rotherham.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: Hooded ‘Muslim Patrol’ Vigilantes Remove Alcohol From Drinkers and Tell Women to Cover Up as They Stalk London Suburb

Police are investigating reports a gang claiming to be Islamic vigilantes have been confronting members of the public and demanding they give up alcohol and women cover their flesh in their ‘Muslim area’.

The hooded men, who call themselves Muslim Patrol, have been filmed walking London’s streets and calling white women ‘naked animals with no self respect.’

The group is also shown taking ‘evil’ booze from revellers and film a cyclist being treated after a road accident, claiming they were injured because they were unclean.

In one exchange a member of the group says: ‘We don’t care if you are appalled at all’, before calling themselves ‘vigilantes implementing Islam upon your own necks’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Is Red Ed the New Margaret Thatcher?… No. Miliband Shouldn’t be Allowed Within 100 Miles of Number 10 Downing Street

As I have explained previously, I only read the Guardian so you don’t have to. I also make a point of listening to the political interviews on Radio 4’s Today programme to save you the early morning upset of hurling your bowl of cornflakes at the wireless.

I know, I know. It’s a dirty and dangerous job, but someone’s got to do it. There’s no need to thank me. And occasionally the time I invest in this drivel pays off in spades.

Take yesterday, for instance. The Guardian devoted four pages to the proposition: ‘Could Ed be Labour’s Thatcher?’

Under the headline: ‘Rise of the Iron Man,’ the paper concluded that: ‘The Labour leader might just be the next radical Prime Minister the country has been waiting for.’

Before I’d finished laughing at this preposterous attempt to draw parallels between milksop Miliband and the Iron Lady, up popped the boy himself on Today to demonstrate precisely why he shouldn’t be allowed within 100 miles of No.10 Downing Street.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Hunt Sick Animal-Hater Who Has Been Scattering Cooked Sausages Spiked With Nails Across Dog Walking Areas

An animal-hater is spiking sausages with nails to scatter them on playing fields for dogs.

Police issued a warning today after dog walkers discovered the sausages embedded with nails as their pets sniffed the deadly treats.

The dog hater littered a popular dog-walking spot in Abergavenny, South Wales, with cooked cocktail sausages, each one spiked with nine metal nails pushed inside.

Vet Ben Hynes was warned about the cruel campaign of terror by concerned dog owners.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Pensioner is Hauled to Court After Taking His Air Rifle to a Squirrel

After watching it raid his garden bird table once too often, Bill Worthington decided enough was enough.

The retired civil servant set a trap for his bushy-tailed foe and lay in wait.

It didn’t take long for the grey squirrel to take the bait and, with the animal cornered in the make-shift cage, the 75-year-old from Stockport, Greater Manchester, shot it twice with his air rifle.

He went shopping but, when he returned two hours later, the animal was still alive so he shot it a further three times.

Yesterday it emerged Worthington is facing up to six months in jail or a £5,000 fine after being hauled before the courts for causing unnecessary suffering to the squirrel.

Speaking afterwards, he said: ‘I cannot believe I have been taken to court over this one grey squirrel, which, frankly, has been a pest and vermin. It does seem over the top.

‘I just wanted to keep my garden nice and feed the birds, yet these squirrels kept coming in and taking all the food.

‘They seem to wait in the trees until I’m not in the garden before striking. They dig up my garden and they eat the bird feed. In my mind they are a real problem.

[…]

The grey squirrel originated in North America but was introduced to the UK throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Larger and more robust than the native red squirrel, it has now spread across England, Wales and Scotland and is regarded as a pest.

The red squirrel used to be common but the population crashed because of greys spreading disease and taking their habitat.

Black squirrels, the same species as greys, are now also thought to be increasing in number.

Wild animals such as the grey squirrel are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Scotland Yard Launch Criminal Investigation Into Historic Claims ‘Senior Aide of Former Prime Minister Had Links to Paedophile Ring’

Allegations that members of an ‘Establishment’ paedophile ring sexually abused boys in council care during the 1980s are to be investigated by police, it emerged yesterday.

Former ministers, senior MPs, top police officers and those with links to the royal household are alleged to have indecently assaulted vulnerable, under-age males.

Claims that showbusiness celebrities were part of the same ring will also be investigated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: France Justifies Gov’t Handling of Hostage Crisis

(ANSAmed) — PARIS/ROME/TUNIS — More than half of the 132 foreign hostages at the In Amenas gas field have been freed, Algerian news agency APS cited security sources as saying on Friday. A total of 650 hostages have been freed, of which 573 are Algerian, APS reported. Army special forces are looking for a peaceful way to free more hostages still being held by gunmen at the gas field, which has been secured so the terrorists can’t blow it up, according to APS.

French government authorities on Friday abstained from criticizing the way Algeria handled the hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas field yesterday.

“It was a complex situation, given the number of hostages.The Algerian authorities believed they had no choice but to raid the site,” foreign ministry spokesperson Philippe Lalliot said, adding that the assault on the gas field by an al-Qaeda-linked brigade “confirms the presence of terrorist groups” in the Sahel and is “a challenge to the international community as a whole.” “When facing terrorism, when fighting it together, I invite everyone to be cautious with their criticism, because those involved are Algerian,” said Interior Minister Manuel Vals. “Of course some Westerners are involved, but Algerians are those who have lost tens of thousands of their own over the years.” Also on Friday, the justice ministry announced it has opened an investigation into the hostage-taking showdown at In Amenas, as it does in all situations in which French citizens get in harm’s way abroad.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria: Second Army Raid Ongoing, Unconfirmed Fatalities

Terrorists want an end to Mali war and a prisoner exchange

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS — Algeria has begun a second military operation to rescue foreign hostages still being held by al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists at the In Amenas gas field, Algerian security and official sources in Paris said Friday.

The kidnappers, which hail from the Mulathameen (The Masked Ones) brigade, called on France to negotiate an end to the war in Mali, and on the US to trade two of its prisoners for some of their American hostages: Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, 74, aka The Blind Sheikh, who is from militant Islamic group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and is currently serving a life sentence for inspiring the 1993 World Trade Center bombings; and Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, aka Lady al-Qaeda, who is serving 86 years for assaulting her US interrogators in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the terrorists also warned Algerians to “stay away from the installations of foreign companies as we will strike again,” Mauritanian news agency ANI reported.

The number of hostages and fatalities is still unconfirmed, with Al Jazeera reporting 30 hostages, including seven foreigners, killed in the first army raid, and Algerian security sources stating that 18 terrorists were killed. Official APS Algerian news agency cited security forces as saying that 600-700 hostages had been freed, of which about 100 foreigners. Escaped Irish hostage, Stephen McFaul, told reporters he was made to wear a Semtex explosive belt and to act as a human shield.

“The terrorist threat has been eliminated from part of the plant, but the danger remains in another part,” British Premier David Cameron explained, adding that the situation is still “fluid” and “dangerous”.

“The terrorists have no place to hide in Algeria, North Africa or anywhere else,” said US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Japan expressed “deep concern” over the bloody rescue attempt by Algerian special forces. France abstained from criticizing the operation, but opened an investigation into the hostage-taking since French citizens were affected.

The In Amenas field has been secured so terrorists can’t blow it up, French officials said earlier on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria Desert Siege: 100 of 132 Foreign Hostages Freed

AIN AMENAS, Algeria (AP) — The bloody three-day hostage standoff at a natural gas plant in the Sahara took a dramatic turn Friday as Algeria’s state news service reported that nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers kidnapped by Islamic militants had been freed.

That number of hostages at the remote desert facility was significantly higher than any previous report, but it still left questions about the fate of over 30 other foreign energy workers. It wasn’t clear how the government arrived at the latest tally of hostages, which was far higher than the 41 foreigners the militants had claimed previously.

Yet the report that nearly 100 workers were safe could indicate a breakthrough in the confrontation that began when the militants seized the plant early Wednesday.

The militants, meanwhile, offered to trade two captive American workers for two terror figures jailed in the United States, according to a statement received by a Mauritanian news site that often reports news from North African extremists.

U.S. officials in Washington noted, however, that the Obama administration rejects any trade of hostages for convicted terrorists.

The Friday report from the Algerian government news agency APS, citing a security official, did not mention any casualties in the battles between Algerian forces and the militants. But earlier it had said that 18 militants had been killed, along with six hostages — two in the initial attack Wednesday and four on Thursday.

It was not clear whether the remaining foreigners were still captive or had died during the Algerian military offensive to free them that began Thursday.

The desert siege erupted Wednesday when the militants attempted to hijack two buses at the plant, were repulsed, and then seized the sprawling refinery, which is 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) south of Algiers. They had claimed the attack came in retaliation for France’s recent military intervention against Islamist rebels in neighboring Mali, but security experts have said it must have taken weeks of planning to hit the remote site.

Since then, Algeria’s government has kept a tight grip on information about the siege.

The militants had seized hundreds of workers from 10 nations at Algeria’s remote Ain Amenas natural gas plant. The overwhelming majority were Algerian and were freed almost immediately.

Algerian forces retaliated Thursday by storming the plant in an attempted rescue operation that left leaders around the world expressing strong concerns about the hostages’ safety.

Militants claimed 35 hostages died on Thursday when Algerian military helicopters opened fire as the Islamists transported the hostages around the gas plant.

On Friday, trapped in the main refinery area, the militants offered to trade two American hostages for two prominent terror figures jailed in the United States. Those the militants sought included Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who was convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and considered the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

But U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there would be “no place to hide” for anyone who looks to attack the United States.

“Terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary, no refuge, not in Algeria, not in North Africa, not anywhere,” Panetta said Friday.

Workers kidnapped by the militants came from around the world — Americans, Britons, French, Norwegians, Romanians, Malaysians, Japanese, Algerians…

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

Al-Nusra: A Jihadist Brigade That Scares Syrian Rebels

Close to al-Qaeda, the group is connected with those who carried out the university attack in Aleppo. Al-Nusra and other Islamist groups are using force to impose their control on the opposition, ready to kill anyone standing in the way of an Islamic state in Syria.

Damascus (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the military force that is fighting Bashar al-Assad, has a new foe: the extremist militias coming into Syria to set up an Islamic state. Once the old regime has fallen, the opposition could be the new target of groups like the al-Nusra Brigade, a movement close to al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

In a series of interviews with al-Jazeera and the BBC, members of the group clearly state that their goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria and for this they are willing to fighting other revolutionaries who stand in their way.

Some members claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack at Aleppo University that left 87 people dead and hundreds of wounded. In fact, currently, the largest group is in Aleppo with hundreds of Islamist fighters.

Fearing reprisals, the rebels have denied it but they cannot hide the fact of their presence on the ground. Pickups and cars with black flags with religious inscriptions are visible in the streets. And black is al-Qaeda’s colour and that of other Jihadist groups.

So far, al-Nusra has fought alongside dozens of rebel groups trying to overthrow the Assad the regime. However, “after the fall of the regime, they will try to impose their views on the Syrian people,” said Saqr Idlib, a 24-year-old FSA fighter. “Their goal is for Syria to be an Islamic state and the Free Syrian Army is the opposite of that.”

After secretly reaching Syria, the Jihadist militia is now in the open. Even though it is on the US terrorist list, members of the group have given interviews in print and on tape to international media.

Their main area of influence is Idlib province, but affiliated groups are operating in Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and other parts of the country.

In Idlib, Mustafa, their spokesman, told al-Jazeera that they are willing to die in this conflict-the honour of martyrdom.

Al-Nusra fighters are all Sunni Muslims. They include Syrians but also outsiders from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Turkey and Afghanistan. Some fighters do not speak Arabic and are helped by comrades to communicate.

“Syria . . . will be an Islamic and Sharia state,” said Khattab, who has little knowledge of Arabic but fought in Afghanistan. “We will not accept anything else. Democracy and secularism are completely rejected.”

Quoted in a Reuters report on Islamist groups in Aleppo, he warned anyone who might stand in the way. “We will fight them,” he said, “even if they are among the revolutionaries”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Al-Zawahiri’s Brother Attends Anti-French Protest in Cairo

(AGI) Cairo — Al-Zawahiri’s brother is among those taking part in a protest being held in Cairo against French intervention in Mali ..

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

American Hostages to Jihad in Algeria: 1640 to Present

By Andrew Bostom

Early Wednesday (1/16/13) jihadists seized a gas field in Amenas, eastern Algeria, near the border with Libya, taking hostage just under 200 workers, predominantly Algerians, but also some forty foreigners, among them an undisclosed number of Americans. Speaking to France 24, an unnamed hostage claimed the prisoners were being forced to wear explosive belts. The hostage added that their captors were heavily armed and had threatened to detonate the base should the Algerian army attempt to storm it.

The jihadist attackers, in a statement sent to ANI, a Mauritanian news agency, claimed “the operation was a response to flagrant interference of Algeria, [which] opened its airspace to the French Air Force [who] bombed areas of northern Mali,” and demanded the “immediate halt of the aggression against our own in Mali.” Reference was also made to “the participation of Algeria in the war with France,” as “being a betrayal of the blood of the martyrs of Algerians who were killed in the fight against French colonialism.” Al Mulathameen (“The Masked Brigade “), who apparently prepared the announcement, is associated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African affiliate of Al Qaeda. The group insisted it was holding more than 40 “crusaders” —a prototypical jihadist reference to non-Muslims — “including seven Americans, two French, two British as well as other citizens of various European nationalities.” Algeria’s interior minister, Daho Ould Kablia, maintained the raid was orchestrated by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and has reportedly established his own group in the Sahara

Initial reports Thursday 1/17/13 (here, here ) indicated that perhaps half of the ~ 40 foreign workers, including some of the Americans, as well as ~30 to 40 of the ~ 150 Algerians held captive may have escaped their jihadist kidnappers. An ominous AP story then reported the jihadist captors claimed 35 hostages, and 15 of their members were killed, after Algerian helicopters attacked the gas facility in a strafing run. Reuters subsequently reported thirty hostages were killed, including seven foreign hostages, along with eleven of their jihadist captors, during the Algerian military assault. Following the violent conclusion of the standoff, US Today later repeated both Algerian claims that 600 hostages in total had been freed, and the insistence by the jihadists that 35 of the hostages had been killed, purportedly including 5 Americans. But ABC News, citing unnamed “U.S. officials,” claimed five Americans who were at the Algerian natural gas facility when it was raided by the jihadists are now safe, and believed to have left the country…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]

Muslims Attack Christians in Egypt on Rumor of Sexual Assault

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Thousands of Muslims from Marashda and surrounding villages attacked eight Coptic homes and businesses, including five pharmacies, which were looted and torched. Coptic-owned cars were also torched. The attack on the Christians was caused by rumor that a 55-year-old Coptic man, Nader Masoud, sexually assaulted a 6-year-old Muslim girl.

The Attacks on the village, which has a majority Christian population, started yesterday after 10 PM, when several Coptic businesses were torched, and Church of Abu Fam had its cross demolished and its glass smashed.

Anba Kyrollos, Bishop of Nag Hammadi, said that a medical check of the Muslim girl proved her “virginity,” but the attacks “took place after the Muslims knew of the medical verdict and the sexual assault was only a rumor.”

The Bishop said Nader Masoud has surrendered to the police for his own safety.

Clashes broke out for the second time today in Marashda between security forces and the Muslim protesters, after the police arrested 10 Muslims who tried to storm the church this morning and who torched a police car.

A mob of over 2000 Muslims had gathered this afternoon on the village bridge to prevent the police from transporting those Muslims who arrested. The mob prevented police vehicles from passing through and tried to break into the police cars to get the suspects out of the vehicles. This led security forces to call for reinforcement troops from the Central Security Directorate in Qena which fired teargas on the protesters.

According the newspaper Aldostor-Assly, the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafists groups denied any involvement in the Marshada events, stressing that they have formed human shields to protect the village church

A relative calm now prevails in the village after a friendly meeting took place at the church; the meeting was attended by the church pastor, security officials, the Muslim girl’s family and Muslim elders. It was decided that the case will be left for the court to resolve.

Some Muslims are demonstrating in front of the police station where the accused Coptic man is being held.

Copts are staying in their homes for fear of attacks. The Coptic Church cancelled tonight’s evening service celebrating the feast of Epiphany.

Security forces are still present in the village.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]

Saif Gaddafi Appears in Court Charged With Trying to Escape Jail and Insulting New Libyan Regime’s Flag

The son of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi has appeared in court today charged with attempting to escape jail, harming state security and insulting the new regime’s flag.

Saif-al Islam, who had been considered the most natural successor to his father before the fall of his regime in 2011, appeared in court in the western town of Zintan where he is being held by militiamen, according to the official Libyan news agency LANA.

The trial is said to be linked with his meeting in June with an International Criminal Court delegation accused of smuggling documents to him.

His ICC appointed lawyer, Australian Melinda Taylor, was herself arrested and held for three weeks on suspicion of handing her client documents that could endanger national security.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Up to 12 Britons ‘Dead or Injured’ In Oil Plant Hostage Crisis: David Cameron Sends SAS and Hostage Negotiators to Algiers But Saharan State Still Refuses Help

Up to 12 British citizens are feared dead or injured after a botched rescue attempt at a BP compound in Algeria where they were being held by Al Qaeda terrorists.

David Cameron revealed that ‘less than 30’ British workers are unaccounted for as he gave terrifying details of the ‘ongoing’ hostage crisis in the Saharan desert. It is now understood that 12 Britons are among the casualties.

In an extraordinary development, Algeria today refused repeated offers of help to bring its worst terror attack on Westerners under control. But the Prime Minister is to send specialist Met Police negotiators and SAS forces to the capital city Algiers in the hope Britain can step in.

Norway, who also has citizens caught up in the crisis, will be sending its own special forces to the BP plant, regardless of whether the Algerians agree to it, sources say.

In a statement to MPs the Prime Minister blasted the Algerian government for staging the secret ‘all guns blazing’ rescue mission despite offers of SAS help and his demands to be told of any operation that could put British lives at risk.

‘We were disappointed not to be informed of this in advance… this is a large and complex site and they are still pursuing terrorists and possibly some of the hostages in other areas of the site,’ he said.

‘We will continue to do everything we can to hunt the people down who are responsible for this and for other such terrorist outrages’.

In the worst terror attack on Britons since 7/7, the UK has been plunged into a diplomatic crisis when at least 30 hostages were killed in the Sahara Desert, with at least two Britons among the dead after Algerian troops attacked their captors.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: A Muslim Who Converted to Christianity Risks the Death Penalty

Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin, is accused of undermining national security. The trial will begin on January 21. Judge will be Pir-Abbassi Abbas, responsible for various human rights violations.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin who converted to Christianity arrested in September on a trip to his native country risks the death penalty. The man, 32, is accused of undermining national security. His wife Naghmeh Abedini has reported the news. According to the woman, her husband’s trial will begin on January 21 and will be chaired by Abbas Pir-Abassi, a judge of the revolutionary court accused of human rights violations for the harsh sentences handed down to the young protagonists in the 2009 demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In 2010 he condemned Jila Baniyaghoob, journalist and human rights activist to 30 years in prison.

Born in Iran, Saeed Abedini has lived for years in the States with his wife and two children, but has maintained close ties with his country of origin. The problems with the Iranian authorities began in 2009 after his conversion to Christianity.

During a visit the police arrested him, but released him after a few months, making him sign a document where the man promised not to proselytize or carry out religious activities. After this episode Abedini visited Iran nine more times, without any problems. In recent years he was helping some friends to build an orphanage in a small town in the north of the country. During the last trip in September 2012, the police again arrested him, accusing him of violating the agreement.

In recent months, Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the American Secretary of State, urged the Iranian government to grant the man a lawyer. But according to his wife, no lawyer has ever visited her husband.

The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of some religious minorities, including Christians, but also punishes Muslims who change religion with death.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Five Years After the Orissa Pogroms, Christians Still Live in Appalling Conditions

The victims of the anti-Christian violence in 2007 and 2008 are still denied justice and assistance. Hundreds of people are still without identity papers or title deeds. Violence remains an ever present problem, especially for Dalit Christian girls and women.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Five years after they were the victims of pogroms in Kandhamal District, in the Indian state of Orissa, Christians still live in appalling conditions, enduring discrimination, extreme poverty, without proper access to the justice system, basic resources or help, subject to threats, not to mention unreported violent acts against teenage Dalits, this according to Fr Nithiya Sagayam, a Capuchin priest and executive secretary of the Office of Human Development of the Federation of Asian Bishop Conferences (FABC).

Activists from the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, the National Alliance of Women (NAWO), the Odisha Forum for Social Action and some young people from Kandhamal took part in a mission that visited five villages-Tiangia, Simanbadi, Daringbadi, Badagaon, Sarangoda and Tikabali. After spending months interviewing locals, they drafted a report on the current situation as well as recent episodes of violence. The report was released on 10 January.

From Church sources, we know that at least 100 people died and 54,000 were displaced in attacks and acts of violence caused by Hindu nationalist at Christmas 2007 and then in August 2008. Almost 300 churches were destroyed, plus scores of convents, schools, hostels and welfare facilities.

Although homes were rebuilt in some villages through the intervention of the local Church, the life of the community has not returned to normal. Making matters worse is the fact that during the pogroms most Christians also lost their papers, identity papers, drivers licence and title deeds, which are crucial to exercise basic constitutional rights.

Because of widespread government corruption, the poor have not been able to get new papers. In recent months, Fr Nithiya’s group succeeded in getting local authorities to issue new papers to more than 400 families.

The group’s volunteers have also been successful in providing victims psychological support as part of a neurolinguistic programme. More than a thousand people have been helped this way.

Activists have also helped survivors get access to the Right to Food Scheme and other projects designed to provide pensions to the elderly and financial aid to widows, single mothers and children, both Christian and Hindu, thus bringing unity and peace in various villages.

Taking advantage of the Right to Information Act, the group wants to organise over the coming months seminars to inform the public of their rights, breaking the cycle of threats and vengeance associated with widespread illiteracy in many communities. Village chiefs and local leaders are also expected to participate in these seminars.

However, the situation in courts for crimes committed during the pogroms and afterwards remains critical. Various acts of violence were recorded in the five villages covered by the report. They include recent cases of rape and murder involving Dalit girls.

In each case, volunteers found slow investigations, police neglect and no medical and psychological support by the state or government departments for the victims. Instead, the latter’ families have been forced to take them out of school to protect them from further violence.

The report slammed the Orissa government for failing to shield the victims from such violence or bring to justice offenders when violence did take place. This, according to the volunteers, is even more apparent than in the case of New Delhi gang rape, which caused outrage and led to protests across India about violence against women.

Although Orissa’s chief minister “stayed away from New Year celebrations in solidarity with the recent victim of rape in Delhi,” said Namrata Daniel, from the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, “we wonder what he has done in response to [. . .] inhuman acts of sexual violence on young Dalit girls in Kandhamal.”

In proven cases of rape in Kandhamal District, the victim was paid 5,000 rupees (US$ 90) in compensation. In case of murder, that went up to 10,000 rupees (US$ 180). By comparison, in the case of the New Delhi rape victim, the government offered 1.5 million rupees (US$ 27,500).

Speaking to the volunteers, the Kandhamal District collector justified the low amount saying that “we do not have the money to compensate rape victims and their families.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Far East

Italy: Fiat Inks Deal With Mazda to Make Alfas in Japan

Production at Hiroshima plant to start for global market in 2015

(ANSA) — Milan, January 18 — Fiat and Mazda signed an accord Friday for the Japanese carmaker to make a new Alfa Romeo two-seater roadster for the global market in Japan.

The car will be made in Mazda’s Hiroshima plant from 2015, a joint statement said.

The agreement, which follows an announcement in May, will help Fiat subsidiary Alfa Romeo reach its goals by 2016, the companies said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Chinese Migration to Angola Tops 250,000

(AGI) — Luanda, Jan 15 — Chinese migration to Angola has reached a new high with 21,225 visas being issued by the Angolan embassy in Beijing over the last six months, bringing the number of Chinese workers in the west African nation to over 250,000. The Angolan embassy reports the work visas concern reconstruction development projects in Angola.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Are We Losing Our Country?

I write about the four major ethnic tribes now gathering their numbers to dominate America in this century: Mexican tribe to become the new majority in 35 years, Muslim tribe headed toward 20 million, European tribe diminishing its numbers and the African tribe holding on for dear life. We could include the importations of millions of Asians who will force their way into power as they gather more numbers. We already experience incredible separation, anger, racial bias and cultural incompatibilities developing: poverty levels, baby production levels on public welfare, illiteracy levels accelerating, prison populations exploding, religious conflict especially with Muslims and more.

And to think we remain steadfastly on course to add another 100 million legal immigrants to this already toxic cauldron of our society within three decades! Why am I one of the few to see the demise, the destruction, the degradation of our civilization and most others don’t? We allow our own citizens to be displaced in favor of illegal alien migrants, legal green card-holding immigrants and millions of their babies.

At some point, we will not house enough intelligent, hard working Americans to keep this country operating on a first world level. States like California feature more people on welfare than are working. It’s a multicultural disaster zone in 2013. They also feature 113 separate languages that our tax dollars must cater to in schools and business. The great philosopher Kant said, “The two great dividers are religion and language.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Czech National Flew to Pakistan to Marry Three Times in Four Months in UK Immigration Scam

A Czech national flew to Pakistan three times in four months as part of an elaborate immigration scam to allow Pakistani men to live in the UK, a court heard.

Eva Holubova, 19, flew to Pakistan with her boyfriend, also 19, to take part in fake marriage ceremonies and was ‘married’ three times in the space of four months.

She told police Pakistani men offered her £250 for photos to pretend they were married so they could get visas to go to the UK.

Her boyfriend Peter Pohodko, from Slovakia, also took part in the scam and was paid £300 for ‘marrying’ a 28-year-old Pakistani woman he claimed to have met on his wedding day.

Miss Holubova was among more than 20 Czech or Slovak brides flown to Pakistan by a sham marriage gang based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire that set up fake weddings to dupe immigration services into letting Pakistani men into the UK.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: NHS is Too Generous to Migrants, Says GPs as Many Refuse to Treat Those Who Entered the Country Illegally

Most GPs think that NHS treatment for migrants is ‘too generous’ and are refusing to register some patients who are in this country illegally.

Some doctors warn that surgeries ‘can’t cope’ with the rising numbers of overseas patients coming in for free care, a poll has found.

Last year new NHS guidelines told GPs they had to register all foreigners including tourists on short holidays, students and illegal immigrants.

Once signed up, they would be entitled to the same NHS care as all other patients and can receive free blood tests, jabs and — in some cases — free prescription drugs.

But a poll of 229 family doctors by Pulse magazine found that 58 per cent believe these rules are too generous.

And 36 per cent will refuse to register patients they suspect are living here illegally — even though they are breaching these new guidelines.

One unnamed doctor warned the health service would come under increasing strain next year when thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians arrive to find jobs.

It is estimated that as many as 70,000 migrants from these two countries will come to Britain when temporary controls on their numbers expire.

[Photo] Migration: Bulgarian nationals queuing up outside the British Embassy in Sofia for visa applications in 2006. Up to 70,000 Bulgarians and Romanians are expected to arrive in the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Casey Legler, The World’s First Female Model to be Signed to a Male Modelling Agency Lands Shoot for Allsaints … and She’s Modelling Men’s and Women’s Clothes

She made headlines when she became the first female model signed exclusively to pose in menswear and now Casey Legler is to star in a series of photos commissioned by British high street brand, AllSaints.

The 6’2” former Olympic swimmer and photographer stars in the high street brand’s new Portraits of a Collection series, which will run exclusively on the AllSaints website.

Designed to highlight some of the world’s coolest up-and-coming creatives — as well as the AllSaints spring/summer collection of course — the photos also feature British artist Barry Reigate and Sonja Kinski, daughter of German actress Nastassja Kinski.

French-born Legler, 35, was signed up by the men’s division of New York-based Ford Models last summer.

The AllSaints images show Leger on typically androgynous form and staring moodily away from the camera, her hair styled into a trendy quiff.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italian Play Based on Relationship Between Gay Fascist, Jew

‘The Human Race’ marks 75th anniversary of racial laws

(ANSA) — Cosenza, January 16 — The efforts of a gay Italian Fascist to hide and protect a Jewish friend during the Second World War era are the subject of a new book and play written by journalist Mario Campanella.

Titled The Human Race, the novel will be published this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the introduction of Italy’s racial laws, says Campanella, who hails from Italy’s southern Calabria region.

The idea was hatched from a chance meeting between the journalist and some survivors of the period.

Campanella says that seven years ago, a friend who lived near Tarsia, where an internment camp was based, repeated an old story told by his grandfather. Efforts to find supporting documents were fruitless but he eventually met some of the principle actors in the events that inspired his work.

“It is a beautiful story because it is deeply Italian and full of beautiful contradictions,” says Campanella.

“The Fascist hosting the Jew, but also the homosexual who is forced to live in silence” about his sexual orientation.

Italy’s racial laws of 1938 focused on the Jewish population, stripping members of Italian citizenship.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Vatican: Church Defends Freedom of Conscience Against the “Dictatorship of Relativism, “ Mgr Mamberti Says

Speaking about recent rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, the secretary for Relations with States said that states that ban individuals and institutions from exercising conscientious objection in the name of freedom and pluralism could open the door to intolerance and forced uniformity. He also talks about state-Church relations.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) — “The Church seeks to defend individual freedoms of conscience and religion in all circumstances, even in the face of the ‘dictatorship of relativism’,” which tends to impose a “new social norm” and “undermine the foundations of individual freedom of conscience and religion,” this according to Mgr Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, who spoke about recent rulings by the European Court of Human Rights in four cases involving freedom of conscience and religion in the United Kingdom, which by their very nature transcend national boundaries.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Mgr Mamberti discussed two cases involving the right of two workers to wear a cross around the neck in their workplace and the right of two other employees not to perform civil unions or provide counselling to gay couples.

“These cases show that questions relating to freedom of conscience and religion are complex, in particular in European society marked by the increase of religious diversity and the corresponding hardening of secularism. There is a real risk that moral relativism, which imposes itself as a new social norm, will come to undermine the foundations of individual freedom of conscience and religion. The Church seeks to defend individual freedoms of conscience and religion in all circumstances, even in the face of the “dictatorship of relativism”. To this end, the rationality of the human conscience in general and of the moral action of Christians in particular requires explanation. Regarding morally controversial subjects, such as abortion or homosexuality, freedom of consciences must be respected. Rather than being an obstacle to the establishment of a tolerant society in its pluralism, respect for freedom of conscience and religion is a condition for it. Addressing the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See last week Pope Benedict XVI stressed that: “In order effectively to safeguard the exercise of religious liberty it is essential to respect the right of conscientious objection. This “frontier” of liberty touches upon principles of great importance of an ethical and religious character, rooted in the very dignity of the human person. They are, as it were, the “bearing walls” of any society that wishes to be truly free and democratic. Thus, outlawing individual and institutional conscientious objection in the name of liberty and pluralism paradoxically opens by contrast the door to intolerance and forced uniformity.”

“The erosion of freedom of conscience also witnesses to a form of pessimism with regard to the capacity of the human conscience to recognize the good and the true, to the advantage of positive law alone, which tends to monopolize the determination of morality. It is also the Church’s role to remind people that every person, no matter what his beliefs, has, by means of his conscience, the natural capacity to distinguish good from evil and that he should act accordingly. Therein lies the source of his true freedom.”

At present, the European Court is also examing two other cases that involve state-Church relations. Speaking about them, Mgr Mamberti said, “The Church has always had to defend herself in order to preserve her autonomy with regard to the civil power and ideologies. Today, an important issue in Western countries is to determine how the dominant culture, strongly marked by materialist individualism and relativism, can understand and respect the nature of the Church, which is a community founded on faith and reason.”

“The Church is aware of the difficulty of determining the relations between the civil authorities and the different religious communities in a pluralist society with regard to the requirements of social cohesion and the common good. In this context, the Holy See draws attention to the necessity of maintaining religious freedom in its collective and social dimension. This dimension corresponds to the essentially social nature both of the person and of the religious fact in general. The Church does not ask that religious communities be lawless zones but that they be recognized as spaces for freedom, by virtue of the right to religious freedom, while respecting just public order. This teaching is not reserved to the Catholic Church; the criteria derived from it are founded in justice and are therefore of general application.

“Furthermore, the juridical principle of the institutional autonomy of religious communities is widely recognized by States which respect religious freedom, as well as by international law. The European Court of Human Rights itself has regularly stated this principle in several important judgments. Other institutions have also affirmed this principle. This is notably the case with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and also with the United Nations Committee for Human Rights in, respectively, the Final Document of the Vienna Conference of 19 January 1989 and General Observation No. 22 on the Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion of 30 July 1993. It is nevertheless useful to recall and defend this principle of the autonomy of the Church and the civil power.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

General

Dreamliner in Meltdown as Hi-Tech Boeing Jets Are Grounded in Europe and U.S. Amid Fears Its Electric ‘Car Batteries’ Can Trigger Fires

Boeing’s revolutionary plane, the Dreamliner, was grounded around the world yesterday over fears that its leaky batteries could cause fires on the aircraft.

Safety regulators in Europe, America and Asia banned the plane from taking off after one of them was forced to make an emergency landing.

Fears over its lithium ion batteries come after the 787 Dreamliner was hit by a series of incidents in the past few weeks, including two fuel leaks, brake problems and a fire.

European air safety bosses acted hours after America’s Federal Aviation Authority issue an ‘emergency airworthiness directive’ to halt lights of teh planes — the first time a fleet of aircraft has been grounded across the globe in 34 years.

The FAA’s directive said the action was ‘prompted by recent incidents involving lithium ion battery failures that resulted in the release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage and smoke on two aircraft’.

It said: ‘The cause of these failures is under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.’

[…]

‘Unfortunately, what Boeing did to save weight is use the same batteries that are in the electric cars, and they are running into the same problems with the 787 as the problems that have shown up in electric cars,’ said Paul Czysz, professor emeritus of aeronautical engineering at St. Louis University.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mohammed’s Greatest Discovery, Part 1

by Kenneth Roberts

What causes a Muslim woman to honor-kill the children she has borne and raised? The explanation is ‘the Stockholm Syndrome’. It is one of the secret keys of political Islam and Mohammed’s greatest discovery.

The Stockholm syndrome or ‘capture bonding’ is a psychological paradox in which hostages develop empathy and positive feelings towards their captors, even to the point of adopting the captor’s oppressive ideology. One would expect captives to experience resentment and hatred towards an abuser, but that is not what occurs in the Stockholm syndrome.

Rather, the Stockholm syndrome takes hold in a few days as a result of captors performing small acts of kindness towards their doomed captives. The threat of certain death in contrast with kind gestures is thought to bring about the syndrome. The confused captive soon begins to identify with the cruel psyche of the captor in order to survive.

This push-pull dynamic of terror alternating with moments of relative benevolence produces this delusion in the mind of the captive. The captive then begins to believe the far-fetched justifications for brutality and murder that bend the minds of her or his terrorist captors.

The Stockholm syndrome is a severe form of a psychological phenomenon known as dissociation. It is the mind’s survival mechanism, the way trauma victims convince themselves that “this isn’t happening”. Mohammed discovered it by accident…

           — Hat tip: EG [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20130117

Financial Crisis
» Building Activity in Greece Plummeting, 43.7pct Fewer Permits Issued in October
» Car Giant Renault to Cut 7,500 Jobs in France
» Germany Wants Russian Contribution to Cyprus Bailout
» Germany Begins Hauling Gold Reserves Back Home
» Hotel Mama: Bad Economy Has Young Europeans at Home
» ‘I Have Heard About EU Austerity, But Still I Would Like to Go’
» Post-Arab Spring Countries Face ‘Social Time Bomb, ‘ EU Says
» Spanish PM Calls on Germany to Stimulate Economy
 
USA
» A Bridge Too Far
» A Clarification of Obama’s 23 Executive Orders
» Article II? Obama Got Rid of That
» Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species
» Citizens File Articles of Impeachment Against Obama
» Deaf Man Stabbed Multiple Times After His Sign Language is Mistaken for Gang Signs
» Federal Court Admits Hepatitis B Vaccine Caused Fatal Auto-Immune Disorder
» Make Obama Grab Guns All by Himself
» New York Creates Psychiatric Police State
» NY State Senator: Gun Bill Passed in Middle of Night ‘Turns Law-Abiding Citizens Into Criminals’
» ‘Obama High on His Own Power’ Says Sen. Cruz
» Obama Urges Congress to Toughen Gun Laws
» Obama Wants Assault Rifle, 10-Round Magazine Ban
» Obama Unveils $500 Million Gun Violence Package
» Obama is Begging for Impeachment
» Obama’s Gun Policy Advisors: 8-Year-Olds
» Obama Turns Doctors Into Gun Control Snitches Running Health Care Spy Network
» Philadelphia Police Seeking 3 People in Child Kidnapping
» Sheriff Will Not Obey Unlawful, Unconstitutional Orders
» Texas Lawmakers to Introduce Law Threatening Felony Arrest of Any Feds Who Attempt to Enforce Obama’s Gun Control Orders
» The Law of the Sword
» Understanding the Obama Conspiracy & U.S. Takeover
» Whooping Cough Outbreak Involved 90% Vaccinated Kids
 
Europe and the EU
» Dutch Labour Party Warns Prime Minister on British PM’s Speech
» France: Hollande Losing Popularity, LH2 Survey Shows
» France Warns Embassy Staff to be ‘Vigilant’
» France: Troops Patrol Paris Streets After Terror Threat
» Gang of Men ‘Who Groomed Young Girls for Sex Drove Terrified Victim, 14, To the Woods at Night and Threatened to Cut Her Head Off’
» Germany: Surfers Want to Make Waves in Berlin
» Germany to Move Gold Reserves
» Germany: Bundesbank to Repatriate Gold From Paris and NY
» Islamic Success Story at German Universities
» Italy: Fiat to Make Workers Idle as it Revamps Melfi Plant
» Italy: ‘Save ILVA’ Law to be Challenged Before Constitutional Court
» Italy: Sports Judge Sanctions Pro Patria Team for Fans’ Abuse
» Italy: Roman Engineer Jailed Over Death During Erotic Game
» Italy: Wiretaps Ruling Risks Balance of Power Says Ingroia
» Italy: Berlusconi Brushes Off ‘EPP Endorsement’ of Monti
» Italy: Grillo Says Monti ‘Morally Retarded’ And Doesn’t Know it
» Italy: Bergamo Prosecutor’s Comments Spark Controversy
» Italy: UN Invites Milan Soccer Player to Anti-Racism Event
» Monti Chides Berlusconi Failure to Raise Italy’s Profile
» Netherlands: Over-50s Are the Main Victims of Internet Dating Fraud
» Sweden: The Twitter Character Assassination of Ulf Nilson
» Sweden: Cleaning Lady Steals Train and Crashes Into House
» UK: ‘Caring’ Student, 18, Stabbed to Death as He Walked Home in ‘Bungled Mugging for His Mobile Phone’
» UK: Asda Withdraws Nine Burger Ranges Over Horse Meat Fears as It’s Revealed Tests Found Equine DNA in Other Supermarket Products Last Year
» UK: Astonishing Good Luck of Crane Driver Who Had Been Climbing 500ft Tower When Helicopter Struck After Arriving Late for Work
» UK: Al-Majali: Upskirt Pervert Banned From Carrying Camera in Public
» UK: Bungling Doctors Miss Dentures Stuck in Pensioner’s Throat Four Times Leaving Them Lodged Inside for Nine Weeks
» UK: Could Crash Pilot See Warning Light on Top of Tower? The Questions for Air Investigators as London Mayor Boris Johnson Announces Safety Review
» UK: Father of EastEnders Actress Gemma McCluskie Walks Out of Court as Jury Hears How Her Brother ‘Cut Her Body Into Six Pieces and Put Them in Suitcase and Plastic Bags’
» UK: Ipswich: Teen Girl Was Plied With Drugs and Forced to Become Sex Slave, Court Told
» UK: Man Denies Making Threats to Kill With Bottle of Acid
» UK: Newmarket: Kitchen Worker Jailed for Alleyway Attack
» UK: Paedophile Car Salesman Locked Up Thanks to ‘Courage of Little Girls’
» UK: Serial Fraudster Known as the Don Who Posed as Property Tycoon to Mastermind Britain’s Biggest Ever Mortgage Con Worth £750million is Jailed for Seven Years
» UK: Serial Criminals Who Avoid Jail Outnumber the Prison Population: 90,000 With Ten or More Convictions Escape With Slap on Wrist
» UK: Youngest Sex Gang Victim, 11, Was Branded With Her Own Hairpin by “Sick Sex Monsters” Who Plied Her With Drugs
 
Mediterranean Union
» Israeli Halt to Funds Unacceptable, PA Mayors
 
North Africa
» Algeria: 8 Foreigners Kidnapped at Gas Plant
» Algeria: Aqim Claims to Have Taken 41 Hostages
» Algeria Hostage Crisis: Britons Die in Bungled Rescue
» Algerian Gas Field Siege is “Over”
» Americans Among Hostages Seized by Islamists in Algeria, State Department Says
» Benghazi Set for Curfew After Bomb Kills Libyan Policeman
» Egypt: Islamic Extremists Demolish Coptic Church Property in Fayyum
» Egypt’s Sinister Proposal: A Call for Jews to Return
» One British Expat Dead and Five British Workers Held Hostage by Islamic Militants in Mali Revenge Attack on BP Gas Field
» Terrorist Attack in Algeria: Islamist: Hostages to be Killed One by One
» U. S. Citizens Among Southern Algeria Hostages
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Egypt: Zionism Statements ‘Taken Out of Context’, Morsi
» Stakelbeck Show From Israel’s Gaza Border
» The Good News From Israel for 2013
 
Middle East
» Hitler Honored in Upscale Istanbul Mall
» Saudi Arabia: Country Divided Over Women in Shura Council
 
South Asia
» Bloody Conflict Threatens Thailand’s Security
» Indonesia: East Java: Six Catholic Schools Could be Shut Down for Not Teaching Islam
» Malaysia Rated Most Muslim-Friendly Destination
» Unrest and Political Uncertainty: Pakistan Tumbles Into Chaos
 
Far East
» ‘China Plant Could Make 100,000 Jeeps a Year’ Says Fiat CEO
» China Defends Export Data After Economists’ Skepticism
» Japanese Airlines Suspend All Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flights
» Stability Counts for China’s Middle Class
» Tokyo Prepares for Long-Overdue ‘Big One’
» Tokyo Suspends All Boeing 787 for Safety Concerns
 
Australia — Pacific
» Australian Amateur Prospector Finds Massive Gold Nugget
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Italy Ready to Give Logistical Support to France in Mali
» Italy to Send Up to 24 to EU Training Mission in Mali
» Mali Islamists Much Stronger Than Expected: France
» Mali: EU Greenlights 450-Personnel, 12.3 Mln Euro Mission
» South African President Praises French Actions in Africa
» Two Tonnes of Black-Market Ivory Worth £700,000 Seized in Kenya in Biggest Seizure the Country Has Ever Made
 
Immigration
» 250,000 Bulgarians and Romanians ‘To Head to UK’
» Canada to Resettle Up to 5,000 Iranian and Iraqi Refugees by 2018
» Gauck: Refugees Offer Hope for German Future
» Switzerland: Bern Braces for Influx of Asylum Seekers
» Up to 70,000 Romanian and Bulgarian Migrants a Year ‘Will Come to Britain’ When Controls on EU Migrants Expire
 
Culture Wars
» HBO’s ‘Girls’ Celebrates Dysfunction
» Italy: Monti Opposes Same-Sex Marriage, Offending Some Activists
» Obama the Children Savior Champion of Partial Birth Abortion
» Public Schools Are Teaching What?
» School Teaches That Whites Are ‘Oppressors’
» Teachers Shouldn’t Use Red Coloured Pens to Mark Homework ‘Because it’s Like Shouting and Upsets Pupils’
» Two 6-Year-Olds Suspended for Playing Cops and Robbers — ‘Finger Guns’ To Blame
 
General
» Tiny Solar Activity Changes Affect Earth’s Climate

Financial Crisis

Building Activity in Greece Plummeting, 43.7pct Fewer Permits Issued in October

There was a 43.7 percent drop in the number of building permits issued in Greece in October 2012 compared to a year earlier, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

Just 1,506 permits were issued during the month, which corresponds to 0.27 million m2 of surface area and 1.07 million m3 of volume.

That represents a 32.4 percent decrease in surface and a 27 percent decrease in volume, compared to the same month in 2011.

“In the last twelve months, from November 2011 until October 2012, the total Building Activity in the whole country, calculated on the basis of the number of issued building permits, amounted to 26127,” said ELSTAT.

“This figure corresponds to 4,754.3 thousand m2 of surface and 18,500.3 thousand m3 of volume, reflecting a 31.6 percent decrease in the number of building permits, 31.2 percent decrease in surface and a 29.2 % decrease in volume, compared with the corresponding period of November 2010 until October 2011,” the agency added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Car Giant Renault to Cut 7,500 Jobs in France

There was more bad news for France’s ailing car industry on Tuesday when Renault announced it would be slashing its staff numbers by 7,500 by 2016.

The company will shed 5,700 jobs through natural attrition, with the balance coming from the extension of an early retirement programme subject to agreement with unions, a spokesman said.

Renault insists it has no plans to make any staff redundant as part of the cutbacks.

The manufacturer has also said it has no desire to close down any car plant but much will depend on whether trade unions will back the plan.

“If an agreement is signed with unions, this staff redeployment would require neither a plant closure or a voluntary redundancy programme,” said Gerard Leclercq, head of Renault’s French operations.

Renault’s current workforce in France stands at 44,642, making the job cuts announced on Tuesday equivalent to a 17 percent reduction in staff numbers.

The announcement is a further blow to France’s once towering automobile industry, which is still reeling after PSA Peugeot Citroen announced it would be cutting 8,000 jobs, including the closure of an iconic plant at Aulnay-Sous-Bois to the north of Paris.

The job cuts come after the country’s leading car manufacturers have repeatedly posted disastrous sales figures.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Wants Russian Contribution to Cyprus Bailout

BERLIN — The German government wants Russia to chip in to the bailout currently being discussed for Cyprus — a eurozone country whose banking system has generously accommodated Russian businessmen.

“The position of the German government is that it would be welcome if Russia extended its aid to Cyprus, as it has done in the past,” a German official told this website on Tuesday (15 January).

Earlier that day, news agency Bloomberg said German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told MPs in a closed meeting Moscow must to contribute to the eurozone bailout for Cyprus.

Helping out Cyprus — whose banks, according to a leaked German intelligence report, are guilty of money laundering for Russian oligarchs and organised crime — is controversial for German politicians, with Chancellor Angela Merkel warning last week that the island nation must not expect “special treatment” and that she will push for strict conditions for any international loan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Begins Hauling Gold Reserves Back Home

With much of its gold reserves deposited abroad, Germany has long depended on foreign countries to secure its precious metals. Now, Berlin is moving some of its reserves from New York and Paris back home to Frankfurt.

Germany’s gold reserves are massive, second only to those of the United States in their quantity. They total some 3,400 tons, much of it acquired during the so-called “economic miracle,” when Germany was rebuilding after the Second World War. Around a third of the country’s reserves are in Frankfurt, while the rest is deposited in France, Great Britain and the United States. But the German Central Bank, under pressure from the public, wants to start bringing much of those reserves back home.

In 1951, the Bank of the German States — the forerunner of the German Central Bank — purchased its first 500 kilograms of gold as security against a potential currency crisis. More than 60 years later, the current value of Germany’s gold reserves totals 140 billion euros ($186 billion) — an incomprehensible sum to the normal person. That’s why the issue is being followed by the public with such interest, with Germans debating whether the gold reserves should be sold, because they don’t gain interest, or should be kept for hard times.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hotel Mama: Bad Economy Has Young Europeans at Home

Young Europeans in countries hit hardest by the Continent’s economic crisis are finding it difficult to move out of their parents’ home. Data shows that over 50 percent of those aged 25 to 34 in some countries have yet to move out.

Most young adults are eager to leave home to start independent lives. But in those European countries where the economic crisis has hit hardest — particularly in southern and eastern EU member states — that appears to be a difficult move to make.

In 2011, more that 50 percent of the 25- to 34-year-olds in Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Malta still lived in their parents’ homes, a SPIEGEL analysis of information from the European Commission statistics division Eurostat has revealed.

In Portugal, Italy, Hungary and Romania more than 40 percent of those in this age group remain in the nest (see graphic).

Nations with a high percentage of Catholics show a particularly high number of young adults who have yet to move out of their parents’ home. This is also the case in Eastern Europe, where working conditions for entry-level workers are particularly precarious.

These numbers are in stark contrast to those in the EU’s most northerly member nations, where less than 5 percent of 24- to 34-year-olds in Finland, Sweden and Denmark continue to enjoy the luxuries of Hotel Mama. In Germany, the level is 14.7 percent.

A similar phenomenon, dubbed the “boomerang generation,” has been identified in the United States, which is suffering from a long recession. The Pew Research Center reports that some 29 percent of Americans in the same age have had to return to their parents’ home in recent years. And some 78 percent of them say they are happy with their living arrangements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

‘I Have Heard About EU Austerity, But Still I Would Like to Go’

Istanbul — The sharp pin of hammers striking on metal can be heard through the noise of a speeding scooter.

Above, hidden away in back alleys and crumbling buildings in the maze of streets in the Kumkapi district in Istanbul, workers toil away for meagre pay. Others are carrying or pushing heavy loads of cloth and textiles down the road.

Many of them are Turks. But some come from as far as way French speaking Africa. Young men from Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have come looking for jobs and, possibly, for a path to Europe.

“I’m 35 years old. I’ve got to feed my family,” says Mohamed Nkatoue Mantouim, a recent arrival from Cameroon.

He explained that the lack of work at home forced him to seek his fortune in Istanbul, where he said he has been treated with scorn and outright racism.

“I have to get up very early in the morning and start looking for job. It is only God who decides,” he says. If he is lucky, he can earn up to 200 Turkish liras (€85) a week.

But it is a daily struggle. Christantus Njoku, a 30-year-old from Cameroon, has yet to be paid for carrying heavy loads of concrete up a nine-floor building for the past three days.

Their friend, 23-year-old Ngoult Abdel, also from Cameroon, said they live in a cramped two-bedroom apartment shared by 40 young African men.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Post-Arab Spring Countries Face ‘Social Time Bomb, ‘ EU Says

BRUSSELS — High youth unemployment in many post-Arab Spring countries is a “social time bomb” the EU has said. On his whirlwind tour of the region, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy stopped in Egypt and Tunisia on Tuesday (15 January).

At a round-table discussion in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, Rompuy said 50 million jobs would need to be created in the next couple of years for all the young people in the region about to enter a severely depressed labour market.

“Such a dramatic situation is a social time-bomb,” said Rompuy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spanish PM Calls on Germany to Stimulate Economy

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in an interview with the Financial Times called on Germany and the other creditor nations in the eurozone to take action to stimulate economic growth. Meanwhile the Fitch rating firm on Tuesday said Spain will continue to face downgrade risks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA

A Bridge Too Far

Infrastructure is the backbone of a nation; it connects people to services, markets and jobs. It provides clean drinking water, access to foods not locally grown and allows for the electricity we take for granted in today’s hi-tech world. One of the biggest reasons America surged ahead during the industrial revolution was the massive expansion of the railroad system which shortened cross-continental travel from months to days. Eisenhower’s push to build the Interstate Highway network unleashed a manufacturing boom that has never been rivaled. But all infrastructures require resources to ensure their everyday running and maintenance. US infrastructure spending peaked in the early 1960’s at 3.1% of the GDP; by 2007 it had dropped to 2.4% and keeps falling. While China, Canada, Mexico, Australia and India are putting greater amounts of money into their infrastructure, the US is system is aging and failing in a downward spiral that has serious long term ramifications for our ability to compete in the world marketplace we once led.[16]

[…]

In July of 2007, routine maintenance and safety upgrades closed 4 lanes of the bridge to allow for the construction. On August 1, four of the eight lanes were closed for resurfacing, and there were 575,000 pounds of construction supplies and equipment on the bridge. With rush hour traffic slowed to a crawl the bridge was literally end to end traffic. At 6:05 p.m. Central Standard Time, a witness later testified they heard a thunderous clap and saw dust billowing from the bridge just seconds before they saw the central span collapse into the river below.[4] The southern section of the bridge toppled 81 feet eastward while the northern section crumbled into a rail yard crushing three unoccupied freight cars.[5]

Within minutes it was over, and as the dust settled it revealed a scene from one of the Mad Max films. Vehicles and construction workers were flung up to 115 feet away like rag dolls in a tornado. On one of the broken slabs listing at a crazy angle was a burning truck and a school bus carrying 60 children. Survivors and bystanders began to pull kids from the bus and only ten of them had to be taken to the hospital.[4]

[…]

The investigation also raised the troubling question of why this defect was not discovered in over 40 years of inspections and even more ominously, the specter of this disaster happening again as this same design was used in the construction of 700 other bridges all over the US. Unfortunately, bridges are only one part of the massive infrastructure fabric which is slowly unraveling. America, we have a Problem

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

A Clarification of Obama’s 23 Executive Orders

In an effort to clarify President Beaurat Obama’s “23 ways to look like I’m doing something while actually doing nothing on Gun Control” Executive Orders; I will use my 30 years of Law Enforcement experience to give a “Cop-on-the-beat” interpretation of what is actually meant.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Article II? Obama Got Rid of That

How? When you’re the “king” — you just ignore it. Or write an illegal Executive Order and simply erase it.

Barack Hussein Obama, the community organizer who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, got there by violating Article II of the Constitution of the United States not once but four times in four years. Add his four violations of Article II with two violations of Article I since becoming the “Occupier,” and we have six impeachable offenses that could, and should, land Mr. Obama in a federal penitentiary.

While any American with an IQ larger than their hat size who has read Lord Christopher Monckton’s Peer Review on Obama’s birth, or has studied Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s forensic report on the evidence which conclusively proves that the long form birth certificate that Obama claims as his long form birth certificate is a very amateurish forgery of the long form Hawaiian birth certificate of Virginia Sunahara, who was born at Wahiawa Hospital in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 and died of postnatal complications the following day at Kapi’olani Hospital. Her birth and death certificate number was 151-61 10641. That, of course as all of us now know, is the number that Obama’s political advocates in Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s [D-HI] liberal bureaucracy claims belongs to Obama.

But before dealing with the impeachable crimes that should remove Obama from the White House and transfer him to the Big House, let’s settle the birth certificate issue once and for all, since it’s this distraction that has kept the American people from coming to grips with the fact that Obama is not, and never was, a citizen of the United States. The birthers created an unnecessary distraction—the question whether Obama met the constitutional letter of the law needed to be deemed an Article II natural born citizen. Their argument muddied the water so much that most Americans through the birthers were splitting hairs because Obama’s father was a Kenyan citizen although his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on Nov. 29, 1942 and was an American citizen. In their mind, that settled the birth issue. The only problem is, according to US Citizenship law at the time of Obama’s birth, an American mother—unmarried, or at least not married to an American husband (and living outside of the United States at the time of the live birth of her baby)—had to be at least 19 years of age to transfer citizenship rights to her offspring. On Aug. 4, 1961 Stanley Ann Dunham was three months and 25 days shy of being able to legally transmit citizenship to her son, who was born in Kenya, not Hawaii—the claims and fabrications of the Obama people notwithstanding.

The fact that Obama does not possess a genuine United States birth certificate is the crux of the battle going on in the court in Honolulu at this time.

[…]

In the book, “Fugitive Days” by former domestic terrorist and Obama-buddy Bill Ayers writing about changing one’s identity to avoid capture by law enforcement, wrote: “We soon figured out that the deepest and most foolproof ID had a government-issued Social Security card at its heart, and the best source of those were dead-baby birth certificates…available to us at any county courthouse for a couple of bucks.” Over the years Barack Hussein Obama has used at least 27 different social security numbers. The most recent one— and the one he is using to draw his paycheck at the White House is still officially listed as the Social Security card of Jean Paul Ludwig. Ludwig was born in Connecticut in 1890. He’s been dead for 32 years.

[…]

While Obama’s records, dates and names are deliberately skewed out of focus so the lens of history under the Barry Soetoro chapters of Obama’s life—the Indonesian chapters, could be erased and quietly replaced with the edited Barack Obama—the mulatto American—chapters that suggest that Obama was not born in Kenya but Hawaii. He was suddenly no longer the Wahabbi-trained Islamist raised in Indonesia where his step father traded his British citizenship for an Indonesian education since, in Indonesia, only citizens are awarded with an education. Now, through the opaque shroud of history the Wahabbi-trained Muslim from Kenya and Indonesia became the make-believe Christian from Hawaii.

Except to his closest friends who still called him Barry, Soetoro was being methodically erased because those who were retooling him for an American political career knew that a Shariah-indoctrinated radical Muslim didn’t fit in the pro-Israeli political landscape of the United States.

[Comment: Detailed article that lays out the entire fraud.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species

Pubic lice, the crab-shaped insects that have dwelled in human groins since the beginning of history, are disappearing. Doctors say bikini waxing may be the reason.

Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair — part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.

“It used to be extremely common; it’s now rarely seen,”said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. “Without doubt, it’s better grooming.”

The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe’s most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren’t known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.

Clipping, waxing and shaving the groin destroy the optimal habitat of pubic lice. The practice has helped spur sales of depilatory products for companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. (PG)and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc. (RB/) P&G

The global market for depilatories was worth $4.69 billion last year, according to London-based Euromonitor International Ltd., which estimates sales increased at a 7.6 percent average annual clip the past decade. Cincinnati-based P&G, Slough, England-based Reckitt Benckiser and Energizer Holdings Inc. (ENR), based in St. Louis, dominate the market, which Euromonitor predicts will reach $5.6 billion by 2016.

A majority of college men and women in the U.S. and Australia remove all or part of their pubic hair, researchers at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, reported in a 2011 paper, citing surveys and research by other scholars. In the U.K., 99 percent of women older than 16 years remove some hair, most commonly from the under arms, legs and pubic area, a 2005 study found.

Brazilian waxing took off internationally in the early 2000s, possibly spurred by the attention it was given on television shows such as Sex and the City, said Spring Cooper Robbins, a senior lecturer and sexual health researcher at the University of Sydney.

About a block from New York’s famous Fifth Avenue shopping strip, women in fur coats and Louis Vuitton handbags are filing in and out of a beauty salon on a recent Friday afternoon. They perch on metallic silver and red floral sofas in the reception located in a Midtown Manhattan office building, waiting for a woman dressed in white to escort them to a waxing room.

The shop run by Jonice Padilha and her sisters Jocely, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara and Judeseia may be ground zero in the war on pubic lice. Growing up in the Brazilian coastal city of Vitoria, the sisters, like other women there, routinely waxed their pubic hair off to accommodate the ever shrinking bikinis worn on the beach.

In 1994, they introduced the waxing technique at the J Sisters nail salon they opened in 1986. Things exploded from there, Padilha said.

About 200 clients a day, including celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, come for treatments ranging from complete hair removal to custom designs. Regulars returning every four week’s pay $75 for a Brazilian. Men of all ages and sexual orientation are going for the “Sunga” wax, a $90 treatment in which all pubic hair, including on the testicles, is removed.

Hygiene and comfort are key reasons customers keep coming back, she said.

‘Environmental Disaster’

“It’s like a freedom,” said Padilha of the salon’s signature bikini wax treatment. “When we started the salon 26 years ago, we never thought it would be a success.”

Nor was it expected to aid in the fight against pubic lice, she said.

“Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England.”Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”

Pubic lice, known scientifically as Phthirus pubis, infest about 2 percent to 10 percent of the human population, researchers at East Carolina University said in a 2009 study.

Incidence data aren’t kept by the World Health Organizationin Geneva because the gray, six-legged, millimeter-long louse doesn’t transmit disease, and national authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and U.K.’s Health Protection Agency don’t collect the information.

Lousy Data

Researchers instead track pubic-lice infestations from surveys and records kept by clinics such as Donovan’s, which receives about 35,000 annual patient-visits annually.

“Historically, it’s been very difficult to get incidence data on pubic lice simply because people don’t like to report it,” said Richard Russell, director of medical entomology at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital. “In over 40 years, I could count on two hands the number of people who had brought pubic lice in for identification and admitted to knowing what they were.”

A 2003 study of sexually transmitted infections in Australia found pubic lice was the most common symptom-causing ailment, with at least a third of people experiencing an infestation at some point in their life. Most people self-treat the problem with a topical Lousacide bought from pharmacies, Donovan said.

Ten years ago, U.K. doctors noticed a dwindling in cases of pubic lice even as patient numbers and prevalence rates of other sexually transmitted infections increased.

Going Hairless

Janet Wilson, a consultant in sexual health and HIV, linked the trend with the growing popularity of pubic hair removal she and colleagues observed among patients attending the genitourinary medicine department at the General Infirmary in Leeds, northern England.

In a letter to a medical journal in 2006, they noted patients began getting a procedure known as the “Brazilian,” in which all but a small strip of hair is removed. Women and men who have sex with men took up the practice initially. Now, heterosexual men are doing so also, Wilson said.

She and colleagues are analyzing patient records to see if it’s lowered rates of pubic lice further, and will present their latest findings at a medical meeting in May, she said.

“We put the flag out, so to speak, if we see a case of pubic lice nowadays,” Wilson said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The ‘habitat destruction’ of the pubic lice is increasing and they are becoming an endangered species.”

Skin Trauma

One in seven American men ages 25 to 34 years have had their body hair waxed, according to a Mintel Group Ltd. report published in October 2011.

“Now there are tutorials about the proper — and safe —way to shave the chest, arms, or groin depending on how hirsute the individual may be,” the report said.

Waxing, shaving and plucking hair can cause skin trauma, breaching its protective barrier and potentially aiding the spread of other sexually transmitted infections, said Cooper Robbins at the University of Sydney. Non-sterile depilation products and procedures increase the infection risk.

A 20-year-old Australian woman with poorly controlled diabetes was hospitalized with a life-threatening bacterial infection of her genitalia following a routine Brazilian wax, doctors reported in 2007, noting a lack of published data on infectious risks.

Ingrown Hairs

“No matter what type of hair removal is used, there is the risk of ingrown hairs,” Cooper Robbins said. “That also creates the opportunity for infection.”

The female louse needs to mate only once to remain fertile throughout her lifetime and can lay eggs every day. Once hatched, the young lice begin feeding straight away, gorging themselves with blood until discovered, according to Cambridge entomologist Burgess.

Lice species that inhabit the human body generally stick to certain domains, with head lice staying near the scalp, body lice preferring to hide in clothing between blood-meals on the body, and pubic lice lingering predominantly in the coarse hair of the pubic and perianal areas, said Russell at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

Chest Hair

“In the case of fairly hirsute men, they will move up the hair of the stomach which connects to the pubes and sometimes get into chest hair,” he said. “In both men and women, they occasionally get into the axillary hair under the arms.”

The pubic louse is closely related to the gorilla-afflicting louse, Pthirus gorillae, from which it probably diverged 3.3 million years ago, researchers said. The life cycle of the female pubic louse ends if it’s unable to find a suitable place to lay eggs, Russell said, making it plausible that pubic hair removal is reducing populations of the insect.

“It makes sense from the point of the view of the biology of the beast, but how you’d ever find out, I don’t know,” Russell said in a telephone interview. In the case of pubic lice,”habitat destruction is a good thing,” he said.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Citizens File Articles of Impeachment Against Obama

For sedition against the Constitution

“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

There can no longer be any doubt — the forces of tyranny are running wild across our once great Republic. The time has come for all good men and women to rally to the aid of their country. We have now entered a historic crossroads that will decide the destiny of the United States. Arrogance and corruption has long festered in Washington DC, but the last decade has seen an extreme acceleration of criminal looting and attacks on liberty — every freedom is under sustained assault.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Deaf Man Stabbed Multiple Times After His Sign Language is Mistaken for Gang Signs

Police in North Carolina say a deaf man was stabbed several times after his sign language was mistaken for gang signs by another man. Burlington Police Sgt. Mark Yancey said 45-year-old Terrance Ervin Daniels was using sign language with another deaf man. He said a third person saw them, thought they were flashing gang signs and stabbed Daniels with a kitchen knife.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Federal Court Admits Hepatitis B Vaccine Caused Fatal Auto-Immune Disorder

The United States Court of Federal Claims sided with the estate of Tambra Harris, who died as a result of an auto-immune disease called systemic lupose erythematosus (SLE). The court awarded $475,000 following her death after finding the hepatitis vaccine caused her injury in the form of SLE. But this near-admittance of a cause-effect relationship between the vaccine and the illness and subsequent death isn’t enough. No, we still give the shot to babies.

So, what is hepatitis B and why are we told that it is so important that newborn infants are vaccinated against it? Hepatitis B is not pleasant and can be deadly. But newborns (and the vast majority of people at any age) aren’t at risk of contracting the disease. It’s spread by contact with bodily fluids, as in through unprotected sex or dirty needles.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Make Obama Grab Guns All by Himself

Without your Second Amendment Rights, you have NO other Rights, which is exactly why Obama and his band of Democratic Socialists want your guns. Obama and Biden are prepared to disarm American citizens by Executive Order with 23 orders ready to go, and congress should make sure that they make this move all alone by refusing to pass any new gun control legislation through congress. (Obama signed these 23 EO’s as this column was in editing.)

Make no mistake, almost every Democratic Socialist (aka progressive) member of congress will support Obama’s rush to disarm law abiding citizens. Just like Hitler, Obama will exploit children to push his anti-American agenda, using innocent babies as human shields to protect Democrat Marxists as they attempt to strip Americans of their God given and constitutionally protected Right to keep and bear arms.

It’s not guns in the hands of the “lawless” that Obama & Co. are after. The lawless don’t care what laws we pass, and most of them voted for Obama & Co. It’s the guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens who oppose Obama’s march to Marxists that they worry about.

The NRA (National Rifle Association) will put on a dog and pony show for members, presenting a public opposition to the massive assault of Constitutional Rights, and in the end, they will cave (compromise away rights) as they have done many times before, allowing Marxists to shove the nation towards a second Civil War.

Gun Owners of America has no plan on the table to stop the gun grab either, “We don’t think there is much likelihood Congress is going to move to change gun laws,” Larry Pratt, executive director for Gun Owners of America, told “Fox News Sunday.” — WRONG! Obama just signed 23 EO’s today!

In a radio interview yesterday [url], I explained how they will disarm American citizens and why…

In short, Obama & Co. have no intention to “save America.” They intend to destroy America and all they have to do is spend the nation deeper and deeper in to unsustainable debt, regulate business out of business (including gun manufacturers and distributors), drive society further into an immoral abyss and federal dependency, and disarm the people just ahead of the final fiscal collapse.

We have seen all of these things before, in pre-World War Germany and countless other nations around the world. Governments have killed more “defenseless” people throughout history than all the wars and criminals combined, more than 170 million through genocide and always following the disarming of their citizens.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New York Creates Psychiatric Police State

Governor Cuomo, along with Democrat and Republican legislators, is ramming through a bill to restrict gun ownership, re-classify weapons in order to ban them — and, in a far-reaching move, create psychiatrists as cops who must report patients to law-enforcement, in order to keep the patients from owning a weapon.

Psychiatrists must report patients “who could potentially harm themselves or others.” If such a patient owns a gun, it will be confiscated.

This means a comprehensive data base, accessible by law-enforcement personnel and anyone else involved in doing background checks These “problematic” patients will be kept from buying a new weapon, too. Otherwise, the law would have no teeth.

As usual, the devil is in the details. Psychiatrists will err on the side of caution and report many patients. No shrink wants to blink into television cameras after one of his patients has just shot his father.

Patients who want to own weapons will lie to psychiatrists about their thoughts and feelings, never admitting they’re considering suicide or murder.

[…]

New York has just created a door that swings in both directions. A huge number of people who are seeing psychiatrists can be kept from gun ownership. And people who can see with their eyes what this country has turned into can be turned, on cooked-up technicalities, into psychiatric patients. Once in the system, they, too, can be denied all 2nd Amendment rights.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NY State Senator: Gun Bill Passed in Middle of Night ‘Turns Law-Abiding Citizens Into Criminals’

A New York State Senator has lambasted the passing of what is being called the nation’s toughest gun control bill, saying that it was introduced during the middle of the night, and that members were forced to vote on the legislation when they had not even had a chance to read it.

“I simply cannot support a bill that turns law abiding citizens into criminals by creating an entire new category of illegal firearms out of currently legal rifles and shotguns,” said Senator Greg Ball in a statement.

“…the last minute push, in the middle of the night without critical public input from sportsmen and taxpayers was outrageous and forced members to vote on a bill they had not read.” Ball noted.

The Senator stated that he believed the bill does nothing to address the issue of mental illness, and gave specific examples of cases within his district, which he urged that the legislation would not help to improve in any way.

“We haven’t saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president,” the Senator said on the Senate floor, in reference to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Ball added that he believed the NY Senate was willing to transform law-abiding citizens into criminals “hoping on the front pages that we will be seen as preventing tragedies.”

“Good night, I voted no and I only wish I could have done it twice.” Ball concluded.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Obama High on His Own Power’ Says Sen. Cruz

Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas said Thursday that Barack Obama is “high on his own power” with regard to the president’s announced efforts on gun control. Speaking on Laura Ingraham’s radio talk show, Cruz, who was just elected to the Senate last November, said “this is a president who has drunk the Kool-Aid.”

“He is feeling right now high on his own power, and he is pushing on every front, on guns,” Cruz said. “And I think it’s really sad to see the president of the United States exploiting the murder of children and using it to push his own extreme, anti-gun agenda. I think what the president is proposing and the gun control proposals that are coming from Democrats in the Senate are, number one, unconstitutional, and number two, they don’t work. They’re bad policy.”

Cruz told Ingraham that he does not believe Obama will be successful in passing gun control legislation and that the political ramifications of pursuing such laws could be bad for Democrats.

“I think he’s going to pay a serious political price, and I think the price that’s going to be paid on this is going to manifest in Senate races in 2014, in some red states,” Cruz said. “And there have got to be some Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014 who are very, very nervous right now that Presidnet Obama is picking this fight.”

[Return to headlines]

Obama Urges Congress to Toughen Gun Laws

President Obama called upon Congress on Wednesday to toughen America’s gun laws to confront mass shootings and everyday gun violence, betting that public opinion has shifted enough to support the broadest push for gun control in a generation.

At a White House event at noon, Mr. Obama announced plans to introduce legislation by next week that includes a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and new gun trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons across the country.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Wants Assault Rifle, 10-Round Magazine Ban

(AGI) Washington — President Obama is calling for a ban on assault rifles and magazines with a 10-round capacity .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Obama Unveils $500 Million Gun Violence Package

Without waiting for Congress, President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced a sweeping $500 million program to curb gun violence, setting up a fight over universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting.

Obama also used his presidential powers to issue 23 orders that don’t require congressional approval. The largely incremental executive steps include requiring federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a fulltime director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.

But the president, speaking at the White House, acknowledged the most effective actions must be taken by lawmakers.

[Comment: These kind of “laws” take months to write, yet it has only been a few weeks. This was clearly ALREADY written, and was ready and waiting for the right “crisis”.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama is Begging for Impeachment

I am not a Constitutional scholar, but I am aware of the consequences of past executive orders. The nation now has a rogue government agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, by virtue of an executive order by President Nixon. Later, President Carter reorganized the executive branch and created a separate Department of Education. Currently, executive orders permit the President to seize control of the entire nation in the event of an attack or the declaration of a national emergency.

Now we are told that President Obama is planning to issue up to nineteen executive orders to do an end run around Congress and the Second amendment on the issue of gun control. Whereas Social Security was often referred to as “the third rail” if presidents or Congress attempted to reform it, it would appear that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is the new third raid and touching it is likely to enflame both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Former Attorney General, Edwin Meese, recently went on record to say that the proposed executive orders would be an “impeachable offense.” There is a growing chorus of resistance to Obama’s “imperial presidency”, but whether it is the executive orders or a judgment rendered by a forthcoming Supreme Court conference, it would appear that Obama has over-reached.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Gun Policy Advisors: 8-Year-Olds

Hey, why not? The entire gun control push is based on emotion anyway, so why not justify it by releasing a bunch of handwritten letters from kids urging the president to do something? It’s as shameless as it is pathetic, but is anyone really surprised by now that Obama would stoop to this?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Turns Doctors Into Gun Control Snitches Running Health Care Spy Network

(NaturalNews) If you needed another reason to avoid visiting a doctor, Obama just gave you a new one: as part of Obama’s 23 executive orders announced today, doctors will be transformed into gun control snitches who are ordered by Obama to ask patients about guns they might have at home.

Here’s the doublespeak from the executive order text:

Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.

What this means is that doctor-patient confidentiality is now history. Even worse, doctors are being pressed to start interrogating patients about whether they own guns so that this information can be reported to the government. This is all being done under the cover of so-called “gun safety” but it’s really about turning doctors into devious government spies who conduct covert patient interrogations under the cover of providing them with health care. Once collected by the government, this information will then be used to seize guns from those individuals under some kind of mental health designation…

CDC ordered to treat gun ownership as a disease — The Centers for Disease Control — the same government agency that routinely lies about flu pandemics and vaccines — is also being ordered by Obama to “research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”

This is doublespeak for having the CDC label gun ownership a “pandemic” and produce maps showing the “hot spots” of gun ownership that must be targeted with disarmament efforts in order to stop the spread of the “disease.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Philadelphia Police Seeking 3 People in Child Kidnapping

Action News has learned that Philadelphia Police are now searching for three people, 1 man and 2 women, in connection with Monday’s abduction of a 5-year-old girl in West Philadelphia.

Police say one of the women actually abducted the girl, signing her out of Bryant Elementary school Monday morning.

They believe the other woman rescued the girl from a home in West Philadelphia and dropped her off at a playground in Upper Darby, where she was eventually found.

Police have not identified any of the suspects by name.

More details are expected in a police news conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Wednesday.

WATCH the news conference LIVE on 6abc.com beginning at 1:00 p.m.

The girl went missing Monday morning after her mother dropped her off at Bryant Elementary School in West Philadelphia. That was at 8:45 a.m.

Police say minutes later, a woman dressed in Muslim garb which only showed her eyes, signed in with the name “Tiffany.”

The woman was told to go to the school’s office. But police say she went to the girl’s classroom instead, telling the substitute teacher on duty she was the girl’s mother and was taking her to breakfast.

When the substitute teacher challenged her, police say the woman got indignant, saying, “I signed what I was supposed to sign, I’ve got other appointments and I do not need to put up with your nonsense.”

That woman, who is now the subject of an intense search, is described as a black female in her 20s, standing about 5’5” to 5’6” tall. Police say she may have been pregnant. She is seen on surveillance video walking with the girl from her classroom at about 8:50 a.m.

The Fraternal Order of Police is offering a $5,000 reward for tips leading to the woman’s arrest.

Sources say the girl was then taken from her school to a home at an unknown location where she was blindfolded. Investigators said that this did not appear to be a random act, but rather the girl was targeted, noting that the woman knew where to go and asked for the girl by name.

Authorities say when someone from the girl’s daycare arrived to pick her up at 3:00 p.m., they finally realized something was wrong. An Amber Alert was then issued for the girl on Monday evening.

She was found by a passerby named Nelson Mandela Myers at 4:40 a.m. Tuesday at a playground in Upper Darby, Delaware County, 1.5 miles away from Bryant Elementary School.

She was crying, wet, and wearing only a t-shirt.

Upper Darby police say Myers was on his way to work when he heard the girl’s cries Tuesday morning and found her under a playground sliding board near 69th Street and Marshall Road, cold and upset.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Michael Nutter announced Myers would receive the $10,000 reward that was being offered for information leading to the girl’s return.

Once found, the girl was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she was evaluated, reunited with her mother, and released.

           — Hat tip: JB [Return to headlines]

Sheriff Will Not Obey Unlawful, Unconstitutional Orders

[Note: The following letter was sent to Vice President Joe Biden from Josephine County, Oregon Sheriff Gil Gilbertson regarding the Constitutional rights of the second Amendment to the US Constitution.]

As the elected Sheriff of this County, I am saddled with the duty, as well as responsibility, to uphold the Constitution and protect those people who placed their trust in me to do what is right.

I believe in our Constitution and all it stands for. We, you and I, are sworn to protect and defend our Constitution as required through the “Oath of Office”. This same Constitutional form of government provided us with the most privileged, and envied, country in world history.

Someone once said our country would collapse from within, without a shot being fired. No nation in the world can do more damage to the United States than we can inflict upon ourselves. We are keenly aware of just that by the accelerated pace in which our central (federal) government is usurping the Constitution. This lends itself to a much broader discussion, but for brevity sake I remain focused upon the Second, and Tenth Amendment issues.

It is so typical of the “big brother” mentality to punish the masses, for the heinous crimes committed by a few despicable individuals.

The Constitution, and Bill of Rights, guarantees liberties to the people. These documents, as you know, cannot be whisked to the side by regulation or executive order. According to these documents, the Executive and Judicial branches were to have NO lawmaking powers. The question then becomes how is it “executive” orders can be enforced as if they were laws?

[…]

The Sheriff’s Office is the supreme law enforcement officer over their county and the federal government cannot supersede that legal authority.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “…The great innovation of this design was that ‘our citizens would have two political capacities, one state and one federal, each protected from incursion by the other’“ — “a legal system unprecedented in form and design, establishing two orders of government, each with its own direct relationship, its own privity, its own set of mutual rights and obligations to the people who sustain it and are governed by it.” (P.920

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Texas Lawmakers to Introduce Law Threatening Felony Arrest of Any Feds Who Attempt to Enforce Obama’s Gun Control Orders

(NaturalNews) Texas state Rep. Steve Toth has just announced his intention to introduce a “Firearms Protection Act” into law which would make it a felony crime for anyone, including federal agents, to enforce Obama’s anticipated gun control executive orders, including orders that attempt to limit the size of gun magazines.

“The Firearms Protection Act bill would make any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state’s boundaries. Anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban could face felony charges under the proposal,” reads Steve Toth’s website announcement.

“We can no longer depend on the Federal Government and this Administration to uphold a Constitution that they no longer believe in. The liberties of the People of Texas and the sovereignty of our State are too important to just let the Federal Government take them away. The overreach of the federal administrations executive orders that are do not align with the Constitution, are not very popular here in Texas.”

[…]

President Obama is expect to announce 19 executive orders as early as tomorrow that would bypass Congress and impose unconstitutional and illegal restrictions on gun magazine capacity, the sales of rifles and much more.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Law of the Sword

My last two columns which stated that my line in the sand has been drawn and I will NOT register or surrender my firearms, even if that makes me a lawbreaker (in the sight of government), have generated multiplied thousands of reader responses. And while the vast majority of these responses expressed complete agreement, there were several responses from professing Christians telling me that I was in violation of Holy Scripture for making such a stand.

As one might expect, some of my brethren argued the erroneous “obey-the-government-no-matter-what” interpretation of Romans 13. For the sake of the many new readers of this column, let me point out that my son, constitutional Christian attorney Timothy Baldwin, and I have co-written a pivotal book dealing with this fallacious interpretation of Romans 13 in a book entitled “Romans 13: The True Meaning of Submission.” This book takes the entire Word of God to show that nowhere does the Bible teach (including in Romans 13) that Christians should submit to unlawful government. In fact, just the opposite is taught: Christians often have a duty to RESIST unlawful government.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Understanding the Obama Conspiracy & U.S. Takeover

The Constitutional government of the United States has been overthrown, and the American people have been captured. The only question now is what are we, as true Americans believing that our Constitution is the one and only law of the land, going to do about it? It’s now simply a matter of what the blowback from the tyranny being thrust upon us will look like, how or even if it will play out.

If you are looking for normal political solutions out of this legal, financial, moral and spiritual mess of a country, I believe that time has long passed. If your hope rests in a change with the midterm elections, go back to sleep or better yet, increase the dosage of your medication. It is clearly evident by the actions and inaction of the spineless or compromised leaders in whom you’ve placed your hope and future, and the future of your children and grandchildren, that doing so again will change nothing. We are a captured operation, and partisan politics is nothing more than theater to divert your attention from the iron fist of tyranny that is about to change life as you know it.

You must understand that our nation today is ruled not by democrats or republicans, but by the party of royalty with a European mindset and a Globalist agenda. The morphing from a two-party system into one of elite royalty did not happen overnight, but incrementally and under the proverbial radar of a deliberately distracted public.

[…]

By believing in the Constitution, we’ve earned ourselves a spot on the latest incarnation of the White House enemies list. By supporting the Constitution as the ultimate law of the land, we’ve identified ourselves as an enemy of the state. By “clinging” to our guns and Bibles, we pose a danger to the globalist agenda rooted in socialism, fascism and communism. By understanding that we are being victimized by an out-of-control banking system, we have earned a spot on the “single-cause” terrorist watch list. By becoming informed of the tyranny that exists before us, we have become a threat to their ultimate global objectives.

They are afraid of not just the guns, but of by a well armed and well informed populace that understands the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment. It is the well informed and the well armed that they fear, as they should. They are racing against the clock as we become more informed and better armed. Accordingly, they must act in haste, as they see us rapidly peeling away the layers of lies that have kept them insulated for so long.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Whooping Cough Outbreak Involved 90% Vaccinated Kids

Vermont has declared a statewide epidemic of whooping cough that started in 2012 and has continued into the year 2013. To date there has been a total of 612 confirmed cases of pertussis of which 90% have been vaccinated against the bacteria with the Tdap vaccine. The New England Journal of Medicine released a study that parallels this outbreak showing that of the confirmed cases of whooping cough the majority of them, 80%, had received multiple Tdap vaccinations — with most receiving 5 or 6 doses.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Dutch Labour Party Warns Prime Minister on British PM’s Speech

Dutch Labour MPs have urged prime minister Mark Rutte not to ally himself too closely with his British counterpart when David Cameron makes a major speech on Europe in the Netherlands on Friday.

Although Cameron is welcome in the Netherlands, Rutte must distance himself from Britain’s desire for a separate status within Europe, the Financieele Dagblad quotes PvdA foreign affairs spokesman Michiel Servaes as saying.

The PvdA and Rutte’s VVD form the current coalition government.

‘It is important that prime minister Rutte states the Netherlands does not see any virtue in a separate status on key European areas of cooperation, such as the free movement of workers or agreements on minimum social standards,’ Servaes said. ‘And certainly not in terms of any special position for the financial sector.’

Economic crisis

Cameron cannot pick out the bits of the European Union he likes, Servaes said. The most important issue at the moment is that Europe finds a solution for the economic crisis and Cameron must not complicate a possible treaty change with British wishes in other areas.

Cameron is due to give his speech on his vision of Europe and the British role in it on Friday. The location has not yet been made public.

According to the FD, business leaders and members of the diplomatic corps have been invited to attend.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Hollande Losing Popularity, LH2 Survey Shows

Mali and same-sex marriage winning points, Le Monde

French President Francois Hollande

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — Popular support for French President Francois Hollande fell by a point ahead of his traditional new year’s press conference tomorrow, a survey by LH2 for Le Nouvel Observateur news weekly showed on Tuesday.

The survey, conducted Friday and Saturday, before Hollande sent troops into Mali, showed 54% of respondents have a negative opinion of the president, 39% support him (down by 1% over December), and 7% declined to answer. Hollande is 15 points behind former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the same period in 2008, the survey pointed out. It is still too early to measure the impact of the Mali intervention on Hollande’s image, according to Le Nouvel Observateur. Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault lost 21 points in six months, with 54% negative, 35% supporting him, and 11% not answering, the survey also showed. Mali, labor reform, and Hollande’s determination to legalize same-sex marriage in spite of protests may “be a turning point in his five-year term,” wrote Le Monde newspaper under a front-page headline reading “Hollande: the possibility of a rebirth”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France Warns Embassy Staff to be ‘Vigilant’

France has urged its embassy staff around the world to be “vigilant” and on guard for potential reprisals linked its recent military intervention in Mali, the foreign ministry said.

On Friday, France launched a campaign of air bombardments in Mali to halt an Islamist rebel advance on the capital, Bamako. A contingent of 750 French troops has been sent to bolster Malian forces against the rebels, who have controlled northern Mali since April.

“A general message of vigilance has been sent to our embassies,” a diplomatic source at the foreign ministry told AFP.

The message also called on embassies to take precautionary measures to try to detect whether there are any hostile reactions toward France and to urge French citizens to avoid crowds, the source added.

According to the consulate general of France in Egypt, the French embassy in Cairo has demanded that Egyptian authorities ensure the security of its interests in the country after calls Friday to demonstrate against the intervention in Mali.

“In response to this intervention, various extremist groups have publicly expressed threats against French interests, especially in Arab countries,” the consulate general said in a statement addressing the French community around the world.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Troops Patrol Paris Streets After Terror Threat

France has deployed 700 troops in and around Paris, Interior Minister Manuel Valls revealed on Tuesday in the latest indicator of mounting concern over potential reprisals for military intervention in Mali.

Leaders of the militant Islamist groups under attack in the West African state have warned that France has “opened the doors of hell” by unleashing its warplanes and have called on fellow extremists to hit back on French soil.

Valls said everything possible was being done to ensure that did not happen, while cautioning that the threat posed by foreign and homegrown extremists had existed long before French forces went into action in the former colony.

“In terms of evaluating the risk, we have to be prudent. But our interior and exterior intelligence services are being extremely vigilant.

“The threat is not new but it is very strong and we have to be fully mobilised to meet it.”

France has not yet raised the level of its national anti-terrorist alert system to the “scarlet” level that was briefly applied last year when Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah went on a killing spree in and around the southern city of Toulouse.

Under the current “reinforced red” alert, France has stepped up security at all public buildings, railway stations and other transport facilities as well as at airports and nuclear power plants.

Special measures have also been put in place to deter potential attacks on the embassies of foreign countries that have backed France’s action, with US, British and Israeli interests deemed to be the most likely targets. Merah’s killing of a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers and the dismantling in October of an Islamist “terrorist cell” have highlighted the extent to which France faces a homegrown threat.

Anti-terrorist judge Marc Trevidic said there had already been a trickle of French Islamists heading to Mali before France launched airstrikes on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Gang of Men ‘Who Groomed Young Girls for Sex Drove Terrified Victim, 14, To the Woods at Night and Threatened to Cut Her Head Off’

Girls as young as 11 were groomed and raped by a child sex ring before being sold to abusers across Britain, a court heard yesterday. Nine men, mostly of Asian heritage, befriended vulnerable girls with gifts of perfume, alcohol and drugs before subjecting them to a ‘living hell’ for eight years.

The six girls were subjected to ‘extreme physical and sexual violence’ while they were repeatedly raped by numerous abusers.

The attackers used knives, meat cleavers and baseball bats to inflict severe pain on the girls for their twisted pleasure. On other occasions the girls were bitten, scratched, suffocated, tied up, beaten and burnt with cigarettes. The men are said to have fed the girls copious amounts of drugs so that they became more complicit to their depraved demands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Surfers Want to Make Waves in Berlin

Surfing in Berlin? Two entrepreneurs are hoping to build a huge wave pool in the heart of the German capital, allowing surfers to get tubed at the city’s former Tempelhof Airport.

Arnd Wiener, a surfing coach for Germany’s national youth squad, and sports marketing agent Falko Nadol want to bring rideable waves to Berlin in just two years, the daily Berliner Zeitung reported on Tuesday.

Using a new “Wavegarden” system developed in Spain’s Basque country, the pool would even produce tubes — those coveted waves that completely encase a surfer.

“This technology will revolutionize surfing,” Wiener told the paper. “It will finally be possible to do it away from the coast.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany to Move Gold Reserves

The German Bundesbank plans to move all gold reserves out of Paris and reduce US reserves, reports Handelsblatt. Of the German gold reserves, 45% are stored in the US (3.396 tonnes), the Bank of England holds 13%, Banque de France in Paris 11% and the German Bundesbank has 31%.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Bundesbank to Repatriate Gold From Paris and NY

The Bundesbank is expected to announce on Wednesday that it will repatriate its gold reserves held in Paris and move back some which is currently in the New York Federal Reserve vaults, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The paper said it obtained a copy of the German central bank’s plans, which follows criticism of the bank’s gold holdings abroad. The foreign holdings were a relic of the Cold War, the paper said, as the gold was sent abroad for safe keeping when Germany was divided into eastern and western countries.

After a review of the Bundesbank’s annual financial statements, the Bundesrechnungshof or Federal Audit Court recommended that the bank come up with a plan on how to store the gold.

Nearly 3,400 tons or 45 percent of the Bundesbank’s reserves are held at the New York Fed, while the Bank of France has 11 percent and the German central bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt houses 31 percent. The Bank of England holds 13 percent.

Last autumn Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said there were no longer compelling reasons for keeping the gold in Paris. Cold War security considerations no longer applied, he said, and there were other arguments against keeping German reserves in Paris.

In the face of a world currency crisis, the German central bank would be able to obtain currency from the New York and British banks, but not from the French one, as France is a euro member country.

The Bundesbank is expected to make details of its plan public on Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Islamic Success Story at German Universities

New Islamic theology courses at German universities are proving highly popular, even abroad. The courses were announced only three years ago, but they are already changing the German religious landscape.

Islamic theology is finding its place in German universities at a pace which is surprising many. German academics even speak of Germany acting as a magnet for talent from other European countries.

“There’s never been such a process before at European universities,” says Reinhard Schulze, who teaches Islam at the University of Berne in Switzerland.

Lecturers at German universities, speaking at a meeting of experts with the German parliamentary education committee, said they were convinced that there would be a rapid increase in the teaching of Islam.

Katajan Amirpur of the University of Hamburg said that setting up new theology courses had been “a matter of justice.” Mathias Rohe from the University of Erlangen felt that establishing the courses at universities had provided a “very big boost.” Bülent Ucar, a specialist in the teaching of Islam from Osnabrück, took the opportunity to thank the politicians at federal and state level for their commitment over the past years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Fiat to Make Workers Idle as it Revamps Melfi Plant

Factory to change production to 500X SUV, Jeep model

(ANSA) — Potenza, January 15 — Fiat has applied to carry out temporary layoffs for almost two years at its Melfi plant in southern Italy as it revamps the factory to change the models it produces there, unions said on Tuesday.

The plant is set to stop production from February 11 until December 31, 2014 so that it can switch from making the Fiat Punto to the carmaker’s new 500X SUV and a new model Jeep. The left-wing FIOM union expressed “strong concern because as of today the investment plans for the plant are not known”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Save ILVA’ Law to be Challenged Before Constitutional Court

Italian steelworks at center of health, environment case

(ANSA) — Taranto, January 15 — An appeals court in the southern port city of Taranto on Tuesday upheld a request by local prosecutors to challenge the constitutionality of a 2012 law allowing the troubled ILVA steelworks to remain in production while much-needed environmental upgrades are carried out.

The challenge will now be passed on to Italy’s Constitutionl Court.

Prosecutors argued that the law, initially passed as a government decree before being converted by parliament, involved a conflict in the attribution of powers between the judiciary and the executive.

The Taranto tribunal also confirmed an earlier court-ordered seizure of steel and semi-finished products from the plant pending the constitutional court ruling. The products, weighing in the region of 1.8 million tonnes and worth a billion euros, are currently lying on the company docks. ILVA has been at the centre of a political and legal battle since July when local magistrates ordered the partial closure of its Taranto plant due to serious health concerns.

In November seven top company managers were arrested as part of a corruption probe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Sports Judge Sanctions Pro Patria Team for Fans’ Abuse

Says that AC Milan players justified in walking off field

(ANSA) — Milan, January 15 — A sports judge sanctioned the fourth-tier Pro Patria team Tuesday but cleared Milan in a case involving racist jeers against black players during a friendly match earlier this month.

Sports judge Gianpaolo Tosel said that it was understandable why AC Milan players, led by Kevin Prince Boateng, walked off the field during the match at Busto Arsizio north of Milan on January 3 due to racial abuse.

He noted that while a team is not normally permitted to leave the field, unless ordered off by the referee, the “essential values of sport and civility,” allowed players to make gestures of solidarity in the face of “vulgar insults”.

Last week, a sports judge ruled that Pro Patria must play their next home league game behind closed doors because of the racist incident.

Many Pro Patria fans painted their fans black for their team’s league match to show they are not racist and express solidarity for the black players.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Roman Engineer Jailed Over Death During Erotic Game

Engineer convicted of manslaughter after death in sex game

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — A 45-year-old Rome engineer was sentenced Tuesday to four years and eight months in jail for manslaughter in an erotic game that went terribly wrong.

Soter Mule was jailed for the death of Paola Caputo, 23, who died during a sex game in a garage in the Settebagni district of Rome between September 9 and 10, 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Wiretaps Ruling Risks Balance of Power Says Ingroia

Warns that State-mafia case decision ‘jeopardizes power balance’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — The powers of Italy’s president could be opened more widely by a Constitutional Court ruling in the state-mafia case, former deputy prosecutor Antonio Ingroia said Tuesday.

The judgement, released late in the day, could “broaden the powers of the Head of State, thereby jeopardizing the balance of power,” warned Ingroia, who had been deputy prosecutor in Palermo before his recent national election campaign.

Italy’s Constitutional Court last month ruled that Palermo prosecutors investigating alleged negotiations between the Mafia and the State must destroy wiretaps of President Giorgio Napolitano.

Ingroia, who led that investigation, added that he needed to read the entire judgement, but said it also confirmed “the principle of the absolute secrecy that must surround the communications of the Head of State”. That means, he added, that only a judge and public prosecutor could destroy wiretaps of a presidential office.

Ingroia had been closely examining suspicions that high-ranking politicians and police negotiated with Cosa Nostra to try to stop a series of bomb attacks that claimed the lives of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.

Napolitano appealed to the court on the grounds that the prosecutors had surpassed their powers by recording four conversations he had with Nicola Mancino, a former interior minister and senate speaker, between November 2011 and May 2012.

Napolitano argued that the Italian Constitution forbids prosecutors from investigating the head of state unless he is suspected of high treason or attacking the Constitution itself.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Brushes Off ‘EPP Endorsement’ of Monti

Suggests Daul’s statement self-serving

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — The endorsement of Mario Monti as future Italian premier by a leading European politician was purely self-serving, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi scoffed Wednesday.

Berlusconi, leader of the right-leaning People of Freedom (PdL) party, shrugged off the endorsement of Monti made one day earlier by Joseph Daul, caucus leader of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. “He is just one of the 14 deputy speakers of the EPP,” said Berlusconi, campaigning for election in next month’s national Italian vote.

“Daul is just one of the EPP’s 14 deputy speakers. Maybe he has personal ambitions,” and is seeking an alliance with Monti, former European commissioner, for his own gain, added Berlusconi.

He also suggested that Monti was too close to Germany, another reason he has been popular with some European leaders.

In the same vein, Berlusconi dismissed suggestions he has had personal problems with other European leaders including EP Speaker and Socialist caucus chief Martin Schultz — with whom he once famously crossed swords in the EP — and Jean-Claude Junker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg and head of the Euro Group of economy and finance ministers.

The pair, along with Daul, were not “respected protagonists” in Europe, said Berlusconi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Says Monti ‘Morally Retarded’ And Doesn’t Know it

Leader of Five Star Movement lashes out at opponent

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti is “morally retarded” and does not even realize his faults, Beppe Grillo, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), charged Wednesday.

Grillo, on what he calls his “tsunami” political tour for the February elections, posted the criticism of Monti on his Twitter feed.

“Monti is morally retarded,” tweeted Grillo, a former comedian turned politician.

“He does immoral things, but does not recognize it”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bergamo Prosecutor’s Comments Spark Controversy

Advised women to seek escorts at night, after rape case

(ANSA) — Bergamo, January 16 — A prosecutor in the northern Italian city of Bergamo who said a rape highlighted the dangers of women going out alone after dark ignited controversy and a rain of criticism from local politicians on Wednesday. “I say this with all bitterness, but it would be better if women did not go out alone in the evening,” Prosecutor Francesco Dettori told L’Eco di Bergamo after the rape of a 24-year-old woman which led to the house arrest of a 32-year-old Kosovar. “The duty of someone in charge of public management is not to surrender to criminality but to furnish better security to citizens,” said Matteo Oriani, a provincial councilman and member of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) Party. A centre-left Democratic Party (PD) candidate from Bergamo for the regional elections, Elisabetta Olivari, said, “Is he suggesting we stay at home? To give up evening appointments because we’re women? I will continue to circulate my ideas even after (afternoon) cocktail hours”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: UN Invites Milan Soccer Player to Anti-Racism Event

Kevin Prince Boateng’s walk-off gained headlines worldwide

(ANSA) — Milan, January 16 — Soccer star Kevin Prince Boateng, the victim of racial abuse by fans earlier this month, was invited Wednesday by the United Nations to join a formal commemoration of the International Day For the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The event will be held on March 21 in Geneva, says Boateng’s team, AC Milan.

The theme of this year’s event, Sports and Racism, was announced amid controversy, and worldwide headlines, over the Ghanaian midfielder’s decision to walk off the field during a friendly match on January 3 where fans of the opposing fourth-tier team Pro Patria shouted racial slurs.

The UN invitation comes one day after a sporting judge upheld the walk-off, saying it was an acceptable action in the face of unacceptable fan behaviour at the match at Busto Arsizio, north of Milan.

Italian football has been battling racism in the stands for a number of years after several shameful high-profile incidents.

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has said the team would also walk out of official games if there were racist chanting, including matches in the European Champions League.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Monti Chides Berlusconi Failure to Raise Italy’s Profile

Suggests Italy’s foreign presence hurt under predecessor

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Outgoing premier Mario Monti says if he is returned to office he will enjoy a higher profile and be a far more respected international face for Italy than has been his predecessor and current opponent Silvio Berlusconi.

Monti, the technocrat who resigned as caretaker premier to stand for election next month, took some aggressive shots against the former premier Wednesday.

He suggested that Berlusconi was so poor at his job representing Italy to the world that other international leaders rarely called him or thought about Italy.

“Often, when we have been abroad we’ve heard: ‘it has been years since we saw a premier,” of Italy, claimed Monti, who is leading a centrist coalition for election on February 24 and 25.

All that has improved, Monti added, since he became premier in November 2011. Since then, Italy’s global reputation has become “trusted financially and, more generally, has been restored”, he added during comments at a forum organized by the Italian trade institute ICE.

As Monti spoke, organizers of the prestigious World Economic Forum announced that Monti will take part in the opening of the 43rd edition of the event that begins January 23 in Davos, Switzerland. The blue-chip conference attracts leading international figures in finance, central banking, and key politicians. Monti will share the stage with Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

Opinion polls suggest Monti could hold the balance of power in the next parliament, where the centre-left Democratic Party may not achieve a majority in the Senate

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Over-50s Are the Main Victims of Internet Dating Fraud

People over the age of 50 are most likely to be the targets of dating site-based cyber criminals, RTL news reports on Wednesday.

A special police website set up to help victims of on and off-line fraud reports up to 90% of victims are older than 50. Women make up the bulk of the victims, especially those who are ‘rather desperate’, the broadcaster said.

Criminals target women seeking a new relationship by putting together photos and a profile using information gleaned from social media sites such as Facebook. Once a prospective victim has been hooked, they are asked for cash. This often first occurs following a cancelled visit. The fraudster then asks for larger and larger sums.

The police estimate dating site fraudsters netted at least €8m last year. ‘But this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg because many victims are too embarrassed to say they have been conned,’ the police say.

People from all walks of life have fallen victim to dating fraud. In one case, an accountant killed himself after handing over €165,000 to a woman who did not exist, RTL said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: The Twitter Character Assassination of Ulf Nilson

Ulf Nilson is known for his controversial opinion pieces in the Swedish daily Expressen, and his participation in Dispatch International was expected to cause a stir; that was understood by editor-in-chief Ingrid Carlqvist. But she did not expect the unrestrained landslide of outrage and anger caused by the participation of Nilson in the premiere issue of the newspaper, in particular on Twitter.

“The reactions were divided. Many were happy and wrote in appreciation of Ulf Nilson, that he was showing himself to be fearless and not would let himself be intimidated by the establishment. But his journalist colleagues acted as hungry predators against him. They attacked Ulf Nilson and tore him to pieces,” says Carlqvist.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Cleaning Lady Steals Train and Crashes Into House

Officials remain baffled as to why a cleaning lady commandeered a train in the upscale Stockholm suburb of Saltsjöbaden early Tuesday morning and crashed it into a house, where it remains while crews work out how to safely remove the wreckage.

“The woman started driving the train from the Neglinge train station, which is two stops from Saltsjöbaden, and usually a three-minute ride,” SL spokesman Jesper Pettersson told The Local.

“The train usually goes at about 10 kilometres an hour in this area, but we estimate that she was going at about 70 kilometres per hour.”

When the train reached the final stop on the line at around 3am, it careened off the tracks and into the first-floor kitchen of one of the house’s three flats, causing severe damage.

No passengers were on the train at the time, but a woman was trapped in the wreckage for two hours before rescue crews managed to get her out.

“We still don’t know why she was in the driver’s seat or whether the incident was an accident. There’s a police investigation underway and we’re waiting for them for clarification.”

The cleaner, who is in her twenties, was flown by helicopter to the Karolinska University Hospital for treatment of what emergency workers described as “serious” injuries.

She has since been ordered detained on suspicion of public devastation (allmänfarlig ödeläggelse).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Caring’ Student, 18, Stabbed to Death as He Walked Home in ‘Bungled Mugging for His Mobile Phone’

A ‘caring’ gap year student who was stabbed to death as he walked home in broad daylight may have been the innocent victim of a bungled mugging.

Kieran Crump-Raiswell’s killer is thought to be as young as 16. He ran up to him armed and plunged a knife into his torso yesterday afternoon.

Murder squad detectives were baffled as to a motive for the stabbing in the Whalley Range district of south Manchester, but have ruled out gang related violence.

Police are investigating whether the teenager, who was said to be so polite he swore only once in 11 years, fell victim to an attempted robbery for his mobile phone — allthough officers do not believe anything was actually stolen.

The knifeman is described as a white teenager aged between 16 and 18.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Asda Withdraws Nine Burger Ranges Over Horse Meat Fears as It’s Revealed Tests Found Equine DNA in Other Supermarket Products Last Year

Suppliers in Holland and Spain blamed for contaminated ingredients

Asda has started clearing its shelves of frozen beefburgers after it emerged they use the same supplier that sold Tesco products containing up to 29 per cent horse meat.

The supermarket giant was not one of the four retailers found to be selling contaminated food but says it has pulled nine of its ranges as a ‘precautionary measure’.

It came as it was revealed horse-tainted beefburgers could have been on the shelves for almost two months after it was first discovered they contained horse meat.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Astonishing Good Luck of Crane Driver Who Had Been Climbing 500ft Tower When Helicopter Struck After Arriving Late for Work

A crane operator only survived the Vauxhall helicopter crash because he was running late and had not reached his cabin when the aircraft came down, it was revealed today.

Lorry driver Paul Robinson, 42, who witnessed the terrifying collision, said the man would have been ‘wiped out’ if he had been on time this morning.

Instead, the operator was still climbing up the crane’s shaft when the helicopter struck its boom and cab.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Al-Majali: Upskirt Pervert Banned From Carrying Camera in Public

Battersea, Victoria, Central London An engineer who secretly filmed up the skirts of hundreds of women was today (Weds) banned from carrying a camera in public. Salem Al-Majali, 52, bought cameras and camcorders specifically to make the recordings of his unsuspecting victims at shops and railway stations. He was caught with 200 indecent pictures of women stashed on his computer, taken between 2010 and last year across London.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Bungling Doctors Miss Dentures Stuck in Pensioner’s Throat Four Times Leaving Them Lodged Inside for Nine Weeks

A pensioner is lucky to be alive after blundering doctors failed to notice four times she had dentures stuck in her throat, leaving them lodged there for an amazing nine weeks.

Umit Maddock, 46, of Braintree, Essex, has claimed it is a ‘miracle’ that her mother, Nermin Keating, survived after she swallowed her false teeth.

Despite checking her over on four occasions doctors failed to spot the obstructing top set of 11 teeth.

When the dentures first disappeared in early November 2012, science teacher Mrs Maddock assumed they had fallen out somewhere in the house that she shares with her mother.

But when Nermin started feeling unwell, Mrs Maddock feared the worst and took her to St Michael’s Hospital, Braintree the following day where doctors assured her there was no way that the teeth had been swallowed.

They instead diagnosed her with a lung infection and prescribed her with antibiotics.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Could Crash Pilot See Warning Light on Top of Tower? The Questions for Air Investigators as London Mayor Boris Johnson Announces Safety Review

Weather conditions will be central to an inquiry into today’s helicopter crash by accident investigators, amid reports the top of the crane which the aircraft crashed into could not be seen.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said tonight lighting of cranes and tall buildings will be reviewed, but that it would be ‘premature’ to second guess the investigation into today’s helicopter smash.

Pilot Pete Barnes, who died in the accident, had requested to divert and land at London Heliport at Battersea due to bad weather, according to the owners of the heliport.

It is thought extreme fog and mist shrouded the top of the tower and the crane — including its red safety lights — making it impossible for the pilot to see and avoid.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Father of EastEnders Actress Gemma McCluskie Walks Out of Court as Jury Hears How Her Brother ‘Cut Her Body Into Six Pieces and Put Them in Suitcase and Plastic Bags’

The father of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie walked out of court today as details were given about how her body was hacked up by her brother.

Tony McCluskie senior had sat through most of the evidence but decided to leave as further details were given about how she was cut into six pieces.

Son Tony McCluskie, 35, admits killing the 29-year-old in March last year but claims he has no memory of it.

The prosecution said pot-smoking McCluskie bludgeoned his sister to death in the flat they shared after a row about an overflowing sink.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ipswich: Teen Girl Was Plied With Drugs and Forced to Become Sex Slave, Court Told

A GANG of four men abducted a 13-year-old girl, plied her with drugs and alcohol and forced her to become their sex slave in Ipswich, a court has heard.

The girl, from a “troubled” family, was subjected to a string of assaults over four days, after being trafficked from her home in London to Ipswich, prosecutor Riel Karmy-Jones told Norwich Crown Court.

Abdul Hammed, 46, Surin Uddin, 28, Hamza Ali, 38, and Mohamed Sheikh, 31, all deny offences including trafficking and raping the girl.

Miss Karmy-Jones told jurors: “They enticed her to travel with them in order to set her up as a sex slave and to use her for their pleasure.

“In order to do so, they plied her with drugs and alcohol and made promises that they would take care of her and give her anything she wanted.”

The alleged attacks took place in a house in Chevallier Street, Ipswich, which had been rented three days before the girl disappeared.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Denies Making Threats to Kill With Bottle of Acid

A MAN has appeared in court charged with making threats to kill after a bottle of acid was found on a train.

Ismail Abudllah Alahmadi handed himself into police as the result of a media appeal by the British Transport Police to trace a man after Middlesbrough Railway Station was closed for several hours on Sunday as the bottle of hydrochloric acid was made safe.

The 27-year-old Iranian pleaded not guilty to making threats to kill, being in possession of a weapon designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid and causing a public nuisance by releasing a noxious liquid on a train when he appeared in Teesside Magistrates’ Court today.

Mr Alahmadi, formerly of Diamond Street, Middlesbrough, spoken only to confirm his name and enter not guilty pleas to the three charges.

The defendant was remanded in custody by District Judge Kristina Harrison and will appear via video link next week to be committed to Teesside Crown Court.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK: Newmarket: Kitchen Worker Jailed for Alleyway Attack

A KITCHEN worker who tripped a young woman to the ground as she walked home alone along a town centre alleyway in the early hours of the morning and tried to sexually assault her has been jailed for 14 months.

Jakir Hussain grabbed hold of the terrified woman’s arms during the attack — which happened near a graveyard — and tried to pull down her trousers, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

She later told police she thought she was going to be killed and had suffered nightmares since the attack in August last year.

Hussain, 27, of Bahram Close, Newmarket admitted committing battery with intent to commit a sexual offence and was jailed for 14 months and ordered to sign the Sex Offencers’ Register for ten years.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Paedophile Car Salesman Locked Up Thanks to ‘Courage of Little Girls’

A dangerous predatory paedophile who cruised Bradford’s streets hunting for young girls to abduct has been locked up indefinitely.

Qamar Malik yesterday became one of the last high-risk criminals to be locked up without limit of time by a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection.

Judge Peter Benson said Malik, a car salesman who preyed on children in his vehicles, posed a significant danger to girls.

Malik, 28, of Parsonage Road, West Bowling, Bradford, was convicted in November of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl and twice attempting to abduct a girl aged 12 off the street.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court found him guilty of all four charges ten days before the option of a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) was abolished.

Malik must spend at least two and a half years behind bars before he can even be considered for parole.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Serial Fraudster Known as the Don Who Posed as Property Tycoon to Mastermind Britain’s Biggest Ever Mortgage Con Worth £750million is Jailed for Seven Years

A serial fraudster who convinced bankers he was a super-rich Mayfair property baron has been jailed after being found guilty of orchestrating Britain’s biggest ever mortgage con worth £750million.

Achilleas Kallakis, 44, teamed up with university friend and ‘prolific forger’ Alexander Williams, also 44, to fool the Allied Irish Bank, Barclays and the Bank of Scotland among others.

The pair operated out of a Mayfair office as the Pacific Group of Companies and duped lenders into advancing enormous loans on the back of forged or false documents…

When the scam collapsed the banks lost a total of nearly £60m.

Following a retrial lasting almost four months both men were found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to defraud.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Serial Criminals Who Avoid Jail Outnumber the Prison Population: 90,000 With Ten or More Convictions Escape With Slap on Wrist

More than 90,000 burglars, muggers and other serious criminals with ten or more convictions escaped with a slap on the wrist when they committed another offence last year.

Incredibly, the number of serial law-breakers who avoided a jail sentence in this way is greater than the 83,000 inmates currently behind bars.

The hardened criminals instead received fines, community service or a fully suspended sentence for crimes such as violence against the person, theft and sexual offences.

The analysis was produced by the newly-established Centre for Crime Prevention. Peter Cuthbertson, the think-tank’s chief executive, said: ‘These figures show the appalling failure of soft sentencing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Youngest Sex Gang Victim, 11, Was Branded With Her Own Hairpin by “Sick Sex Monsters” Who Plied Her With Drugs

An 11-year-old girl was branded with an ‘M’ for Mohammed on her buttocks to show she ‘belonged’ to a member of a child sex ring, the Old Bailey heard today.

The child was repeatedly subjected to ‘torture sex’ sessions where she was bound and gagged before being raped by members of the gang, a jury was told.

The girl is the youngest victim of nine men who allegedly hung around outside schools and care homes to recruit vulnerable victims they could use and abuse.

The court heard how the girl had been ‘sold’ by an unidentified man to an alleged member of the sex ring, Mohammed Karrar, in mid-2004.

After what she describes as a ‘nicey-nicey honeymoon period’ in which she was lavished with gifts including perfume, she was then plied with hard drugs.

It is alleged that Karrar then pimped her out, raping her in her own living room and inviting others to do the same.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Israeli Halt to Funds Unacceptable, PA Mayors

Salaries going unpaid, Israelis ‘must comply with agreement’

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 16 — The Israeli halt to the payment of funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority is “unacceptable”. This was stated in no uncertain terms today in Brussels by Hani Al-Hayak, the head of the Palestinian local authorities association, in his opening remarks at the sustainable development commission of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM).

In Al-Hayek’s words, “the occupation forces are using these resources as they see fit, in violation of international agreements”. As a consequence, local authorities find it difficult to “pay public officials, teachers and doctors. And we don’t have a way out of the problem, since we are occupied,” said the Beit Sahour mayor.

He then addressed European politicians in saying that “we are asking our Western friends to enable us to meet our obligations.” Al-Hayak said that “the settlements are being built in a systematic manner, jeopardising the two-state solution and the lives of the local population.

On this matter, the European Commission has recently decided to speed up the unfreezing of 100 million euros in aid for the Palestinian population, 60 million of which will go to the Palestinian Authority by way of the Pegase mechanism and 40 million to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Today in Brussels the Beit Sahour mayor also expressed the hope that an ARLEM (which gathers together representatives of local authorities from both the northern and the southern Mediterranean) meeting would soon be held in Bethlehem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: 8 Foreigners Kidnapped at Gas Plant

Islamist militants from Mali attacked a natural gas field partly operated by BP in southern Algeria early on Wednesday, killing a security guard and kidnapping at least eight people, including English, Norwegian and Japanese nationals, an Algerian security official and local media said.

Algerian forces, however, caught up with and surrounded the kidnappers and negotiations for the release of the hostages are ongoing, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The Algerian state news agency said a security guard was killed in the attack and seven others wounded, including two foreigners.

The British Foreign Office confirmed “a terrorist incident is ongoing” near the facility in Ain Amenas, 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Libyan border and 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from the capital in Algeria’s vast desert south. It could not confirm if any British nationals were involved in the incident.

BP, together with Norwegian company Statoil and the Algerian state oil company, Sonatrach, operate the gas field. A Japanese company, JGC Corp, provides services for the facility as well.

Statoil, for its part, confirmed an attack had taken place, adding that it has 20 employees in the facility.

In a statement Wednesday, BP confirmed there had been a “security incident this morning” at their Ain Amenas gas field in east central Algeria.

Al-Qaida’s North Africa branch has long been active in northern Algeria and occasionally in the desert south, but it has never before attacked the country’s many oil and gas facilities.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]

Algeria: Aqim Claims to Have Taken 41 Hostages

Two dead from France, UK. BP, armed men still in oil facilities

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — The Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb brigade, led by Moctar Belmoctar, claims it has taken 41 foreigners hostage in Algerian BP oil facilities in Tiguentourine. According to the spokesman of Belmoctar’s brigade quoted by Sahara Media, the kidnapping of the foreigners is in revenge for Algeria’s consent to French use of its airspace for flights headed to Mali.The group of hostages includie ‘seven Americans, two French nationals and a number of British and Japanese nationals, reportsAlgerian daily El Watan, which quoted unnamed security sources.

The Algerian Interior Ministry has said that an injured British national lost his life, raising the death toll to two (the first was a French national).

Further details have emerged on the incident. According to the Interior Ministry, shortly before the attack the terrorists had tried to take possession of a bus in which foreigners headed for the In Amenas airport were traveling. Having failed in the attempt, the terrorists then targeted the In Amenas oil facilties. The attack occurred near the Libyan border. A crisis unit has been set up by the French Foreign Ministry.

BP has reported that armed men are still at the scene of today’s attack on its oil facilities in Algeria, along the border with Libya. This could mean that the hostages are sil in the Algerian oil facilities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria Hostage Crisis: Britons Die in Bungled Rescue

David Cameron has been warned to expect “multiple” Britons to be among up to 34 gas workers killed in the West’s worst hostage crisis in a generation.

A botched military attack on a BP gas plant in Algeria, where al-Qaeda kidnappers were holding 41 westerners, led to a bloodbath as helicopter gunships opened fire on the compound.

The attack was carried out against the wishes of Mr Cameron and other Western leaders, who had urged Algeria to negotiate with the kidnappers after the captives said bombs had been strapped to their bodies.

At least one Briton was reported to have died, following the death on Wednesday of another Briton when the hostages were taken.

Senior Downing Street sources said they were braced for “multiple British casualties”. Mr Cameron warned that the country “should be prepared for the possibility of further bad news”.

On Thursday night the hostage crisis appeared to be approaching a disastrous climax amid growing international anger over Algeria’s handling of the situation. According to one report, 34 hostages were dead, but conflicting accounts suggested six westerners had been killed.

Reports from Algerian state news agency APS claimed that the Algerian army was in control of just part of the natural gas complex.

Local officials in the southeastern region of Illizi had said the army’s raid was over late Thursday, but later clarified that only the residential area, where the majority of the hostages were being held, had been secured, saying the army was still surrounding the gas facility itself.

More than eight hours after the attack began, Downing Street was still unclear about precisely what had taken place. Mr Cameron said: “It’s a fluid situation, it’s ongoing, it’s very uncertain.”

In a statement Thursday night, Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, said: “Although details have yet to become final I am afraid we should be under no illusion that there will be some bad and distressing news to follow from this terrorist attack.”

At least one Briton, Stephen McFaul, 36, an engineer from Belfast, escaped from the In Amenas compound, but the fate of several others was unclear.

Another man from Northern Ireland and at least one Scot were thought to be among seven western hostages still inside the compound.

Western governments with citizens involved urged Algeria to exhaust all avenues of negotiation before considering a military solution. Some of the hostages themselves had called television stations on mobile phones to make their own pleas for talks to begin. They said they had been forced to wear explosive belts and urged the soldiers surrounding the plant to fall back so negotiations could start.

But the Algerians, who have a long track record of taking a hard-line approach to kidnappings, decided to launch a full-scale attack without consulting any Western leaders.

According to French government sources, the extremists started killing hostages “in an appalling fashion” after the assault began. Downing Street said the Algerians refused repeated requests to be consulted about a rescue mission, and only informed Britain about the operation after it had begun.

Mr Cameron’s spokesman openly admitted that Britain was unhappy with the Algerians’ actions.

A US military drone was said to be monitoring the gas compound, but the White House said President Barack Obama was still “seeking clarity” from the Algerians about the situation. Japan urged the Algerians to halt its military operations “immediately” amid “strong concerns” for the safety of Japanese citizens at the plant.

François Hollande, the French president, said he did not have “sufficient information” about the rescue attempt. French government sources suggested that the majority of the 41 Western hostages had died. The Norwegian government said it had no information about the nine Norwegians it believed were involved.

In a telephone call at around 11.30am yesterday, Abdelmalek Sellal, the Algerian prime minister, told Mr Cameron that his forces had no choice but to act “immediately”, No10 said…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Algerian Gas Field Siege is “Over”

Algerian military forces have ended an operation to rescue hostages from a gas plant controlled by militants, according to state-run media. The military move prompted international criticism.

Algerian special forces have completed an operation on Thursday aimed at freeing hostages from a gas complex besieged by Islamist gunmen, according to Algeria’s state-run news agency, APS.

APS cited Algerian Communications Minister Mohamed Said as saying both kidnappers and hostages died in the operation, though the agency said the minister did not specify how many.

Several countries, including Britain, France, Norway, Japan and the US, who reportedly have citizens involved in the hostage situation, have confirmed their awareness of the situation.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had called his Algerian counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal at around 1130 UCT, Cameron’s spokesman said.

“The Algerians are aware that we would have preferred to have been consulted in advance,” he said of the military rescue attempt. The British government also confirmed that “several” British citizens were among the hostages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Americans Among Hostages Seized by Islamists in Algeria, State Department Says

Islamist militants seized a foreign-operated gas field in Algeria early Wednesday and took at least 20 foreign hostages, including Americans, according to an Algerian government official and the country’s state-run news agency, in what the attackers called a retaliation for the French-led military intervention in neighboring Mali.

The Algerian agency said at least at least two people had been killed in the gas-field seizure, including one British national, and that the hostages included American, British, French, Norwegian and Japanese citizens.

Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman, told reporters in Washington that, “the best information that we have at this time is that U.S. citizens are among the hostages.”

[Return to headlines]

Benghazi Set for Curfew After Bomb Kills Libyan Policeman

(AGI) Benghazi — The failed assassination attempt targeting Italian Consul Guido De Sanctis was followed up on Wednesday by the killing of a Libyan police officer in a car bomb attack .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamic Extremists Demolish Coptic Church Property in Fayyum

The attack took place yesterday afternoon. The attackers destroyed a parish hall and community center. They were under construction. Spokesman for the Catholic Church: “By now attacks are on the agenda.”

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Hundreds of Islamists have demolished a building owned by the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George Taymah in the diocese of the Fayyum (central Egypt 133 km south of Cairo). According to the Egyptian news agency Middle East Christian News the incident occurred yesterday afternoon. The reasons for the assault are currently unknown. The two buildings, a meeting room and a center for parish events were under construction.

Fr. Rafic Greiche spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, points out that these facts have become commonplace in Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. “This week — he says — another three buildings were attacked in other parts of Egypt.” The priest said these events happen in rural areas and are often linked to disputes between the Coptic and Muslim communities. Religious hatred is just an excuse. In addition, the climate of impunity and insecurity, which in recent years has allowed many families linked to crime to act unscathed.

After the fall of President Mubarak and the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, attacks against churches and Christian buildings have increased. In the poorest areas of the country, but also in the capital, cuts to public security and the army have left them powerless in the face of these attacks instigated by Salafis. With their money and their promises, the extremists urge residents to drive Christians out to take over their lands, taking advantage of the absence of a clear law that regulates the construction of religious buildings.

On 7 July 2011 a hundred extremists armed with sticks and iron bars occupied an area located a few meters from the church of St. Mina in Shubra al-Kheima in the heart of Cairo. As in the case of Taymah a new center for parish meetings was under construction. Amid police indifference, Islamists presided over the area for more than 24 hours and hoisted a banner reading “Mosque Ebad al-Rahman.” Another case is that which took place in May 2011 in Merinab (Aswan — Upper Egypt) where more than 3 thousand Muslims incited by the local imam set fire to the small Coptic church in the village accusing the Christians of building it without the permission of the authorities. (S.C.)

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Sinister Proposal: A Call for Jews to Return

In the wake of Egypt’s newly ratified constitution embracing Islamic religious juridical law, Dr. Essam Al Eryian, the high ranking Egyptian political figure and Vice President of the Freedom and Justice Party, initiated a generous invitation to former Egyptian Jews now living in Israel. In an interview on December 28 with Al-Ahram, the state-controlled Arabic daily newspaper, Dr. Al Eryian justified his announcement as the need for Egypt “to place itself in the right international and regional status” as it undertakes “democratic change,” — “regional” referring to the Arab-Muslim Ummah (nation). However this backfired on him when Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, objected to reparations Egypt owed to Jews as part of Dr. Al Eryian’s offer. The destruction Abbas seeks entails no such recompense.

Just six days after Egypt accepted a constitution giving unprecedented authority to Islamic religious clerics and disappointing minorities seeking to achieve equality, Dr. Al Eryian’s attempt to draw Israeli Jews with Egyptian roots back to minority status in Egypt seems more like a trap than restitution. Compensation to Jews from an Egypt in dire financial straits would be impossible and is a ridiculous notion. No reasonable person would trust it—an absurd proposition agreeable only by those who likewise seek to ruin Israel.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One British Expat Dead and Five British Workers Held Hostage by Islamic Militants in Mali Revenge Attack on BP Gas Field

A British worker has been killed and another five held hostage by Islamic militants who raided a BP gas complex in Algeria in revenge for French attacks on rebel groups in neighbouring Mali.

There are also seven Americans among the 41 people held hostage in a compound where the al-Qaeda-linked group is threatening to detonate explosives.

Algerian forces have surrounded the kidnappers and negotiations for the release of the hostages are ongoing, an Algerian security official based in the region said.

A British expatriate, a French security guard and an Algerian security guard are also reported to have been killed and several others injured when heavily armed terrorists from a group known as the ‘Blood Battalion’ stormed the In Amenas natural gas field in 4×4 cars.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Terrorist Attack in Algeria: Islamist: Hostages to be Killed One by One

Algiers refuses negotiations. Dozens of foreigners held in BP oil facilities

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Referring to the terrorist attack today at the BP oil facilities in Algeria, in which a French and Brithsh citizen died , the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) leader Omar Oud Hamaha has told the German daily Die Welt that “we have taken 41 British and French soldiers hostage and we will kill them one after another if the French attacks do not cease”. MOJWA is the group which Moctar Belmoctar joined after having fought with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). “More and more Islamists from across the entire region are coming to help us,” he added.

Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said that the authorities “will not meet the demands of terrorists and refuse to engage in any sort of negotiations”, according to APS. Algeria has always maintained an intransigent stance as concerns terrorists.

Meanwhile, some of the hostages being held have been released. According to APS, the latter are Algerian workers. However, approximately 150 Algerian employees of the French company CIS Catering are still being held in the BP facilities after the attack conducted by “about 60” attacked from neighbouring countries, said the company’s managing director Régis Arnoux. “I have about 150 Algerian workers who have been left free (to move around) on the base, but who cannot yet get out”.

According to what was reported to French newspaper Le Figaro by one of the hostages, the terrorists claim to have mined the base. “They are holding about forty foreigners hostage, but we are not all in the same place,” said the hostage contacted via telephone. After a very violent phase in which a number of shots were fired, the situation now seems to be “calmer”. “They have asked for water and food for about 60 people, and have loaded vehicles belonging to British Petroleum,” he added, noting that the hostage takers are armed with rocket-launchers.

According to what has been reported to APS by Crisis Unit sources from Illizi, the foreigners taken hostage number about twenty and are for the most part Norwegian, British, American French and Japanese.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

U. S. Citizens Among Southern Algeria Hostages

(AGI) — Washington, Jan 16 — The U.S. State Department confirmed that Americans are among the 41 foreign nationals held hostage at a BP plant in southern Algeria’s Amenas plant.

The State Department provided no indication as to the number of U.S. citizens held. It is understood that Hillary Clinton spoke to Algerian premier Abdelmalek Sellal. The site was attacked at dawn by a commando with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb affiliation. The commando is demanding an immediate end to French operations in northern Mali.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Egypt: Zionism Statements ‘Taken Out of Context’, Morsi

President, we respect all monotheistic religions

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 16 — The 2010 statements attributed to Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi on Israel and Zionism “were taken out of context”, according to a presidential statement in reference to remarks criticised by the White House yesterday. The presidential statement — issued on the same day the Egyptian leader has met with Us republican senatore John MCCain — claims that Morsi was commenting on “the Israeli attack on Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip, and underscores the need to put the statements into “their proper context”. In that speech, Morsi (at the time a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement) urged Egyptians to “raise their children and grandchildren with hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a later televised interview, he went on to describe Zionists as “bloodsuckers that attack Palestinians, warmongers and descendants of monkeys and pigs”. Today’s statement went on to say that Morsi reiterated “his firm commitment to respect monotheistic religions and freedom of worship,” underscoring that Egyptians had approved the new constitution, which “gives those belonging to monotheistic religions the right to citizenship and to make use of their own set of laws for personal matters”. Morsi reiterated the importance of creating strategic relations between Egypt and the US based on “reciprocal respect and shared interests.” Senator McCain, reported the statement, expressed his hope to receive Morsi at the US Congress during his visit to Washington.

The visit has long been planned but no date has yet been set.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck Show From Israel’s Gaza Border

On this week’s edition of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, we’re on the ground in southern Israel, along the Gaza border, where we were given a tour by the Israeli military just one week after Operation Pillar of Defense ended.

The dust is still settling from that operation against Hamas terrorists and we examine what’s next with one of Israel’s top military spokespeople, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, as well as fmr. Israeli ambassador Yoram Ettinger.

We also get an up close look at Israel’s groundbreaking Iron Dome missile defense system and pay a visit to the Israeli city of Sderot, just a few miles from Gaza’s border, for a personal look at the disastrous effects of Hamas’s rocket barrage.

All with some cool new blue-and-white graphics and opening credits added in.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]

The Good News From Israel for 2013

Israel may be surrounded by Islamic fundamentalists on all of its land borders and face threats to its destruction from Iran. Meanwhile, President Obama is upset with Israel and the prospect of a possible rightward shift in next Tuesday’s Knesset elections. According to columnist Jeffrey Goldberg writing in Bloomberg.com, President Obama allegedly expressed the opinion privately “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.” The President was referring to PM Netanyahu’s announcement to proceed with the construction of housing in the E-1 project in Judea, a rebuke of the UN vote granting the Palestinian Authority non-observer status. Given the looming January Knesset election, less than a week away, Israel’s electorate may be moving towards what Carolyn Gli ck has called the “ Second Zionist Revolution” She noted in a blog post: Next week we’re going to vote and it is already clear that Israel is in the midst of the Second Zionist Revolution. The first Zionist revolution was a socialist revolution. The second Zionist revolution is Jewish. Israel is coming into its own. Judaism is flourishing, changing, living and breathing here like it never has anywhere since the destruction of the Second Commonwealth. Perhaps Israel’s critics haven’t gotten the word of what is about to occur in the Jewish nation. Notwithstanding, 2013 could augur well for a good year in Israel. Here are four reasons why.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Hitler Honored in Upscale Istanbul Mall

People who have been paying attention know that relations between Israel and Turkey have been eroding, but not many realize that Turkey is now not only openly hostile to the Jewish State, but also to the Jewish people. On Friday, January 11, a Turkish citizen took a picture to show exactly how belligerent Turkey has become. The picture is of a huge poster with the words, “Who Would You Like to Meet if You Could?” and the last name, and only photograph, is of Adolf Hitler. The other choices include Suleiman I, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Napolean Bonaparte, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Vladimir Lenin, Boris Yeltsin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Jackson. But only Hitler warranted a picture, a huge one at that. According to Ege Berk Korkut, an active Turkish writer and blogger, the sign was placed in the Sapphire Mall by the owners, a group of Turkish businessmen who are devoted to Erdogan. Korkut explained to The Jewish Press that the Sapphire is an ultra-upscale mall in Levent, the wealthiest neighborhood in Istanbul. The Sapphire building is one of the tallest buildings in Europe. Korkut said that while a few people have complained about the banner — and the management has refused to remove it — most shoppers just glance at it and continue shopping. Ho-hum, nothing startling or even mildly interesting. [. . .] With a huge flattering photograph of Hitler hanging in the fanciest mall in Istanbul, and Erdogan inching towards BFF status with Ahmadinejad, perhaps it is time for this administration to rethink putting daylight between the U.S. and Israel, and instead start putting it between the U.S. and Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Country Divided Over Women in Shura Council

Religious leaders protest, women demand full rights

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 17 — While the international community hailed Saudi King Abdullah’s January 11 decree appointing 30 women to the country’s previously all-male Shura Council, or parliament, it sparked differing responses from human rights and religious communities within the ultra-conservative oil kingdom. The king’s measure has catapulted Saudi Arabia from 184th to 80th country in the world in terms of female MPs, making it the sixth Arab country and the first in the Gulf in the ranking.

In an unauthorized but un-policed protest at the royal palace, a video of which is now circulating on YouTube, religious groups condemned “the dangerous changes taking place in the country”. They demanded a meeting with palace officials to “make them change their minds”, saying the female nominations “are not representative of society” and calling for similar parliamentary quotas for religious figures.

Women’s groups said having women MPs will provide positive role models and help the country come to terms with women in power, but much remains to be done in their country, where women are not allowed to travel, work, study or marry without male consent.

“It’s a good decision, but the issue of women’s rights is still 100% unresolved,” commented leading Saudi feminist Waheja al-Hawidar. “There are still a lot of laws and restrictions that need to be amended or repealed for women to finally be considered as adults in their day-to-day lives.” Social media commentators are mostly in favor of the royal decree, which nominated two princesses: Sarah al-Faisal, sister of the current foreign minister and daughter of King Faisal, who died in 1975, and Moodhi, daughter of King Khalid, who died in 1982. Of the 30 nominees, 27 have PhD’s.

Set up in 1993 as a non-elected council with no legislative powers, the Shura has on occasion been consulted by the kingdom’s highest religious authorities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bloody Conflict Threatens Thailand’s Security

A civil war raging between Muslim separatists and the Thai military in the south of the country becomes a great challenge for Bangkok as the conflict escalates.

It happened last December — masked men stormed into a school in southern Thailand and shot three Buddhist teachers in front of their colleagues and students. That was the apex of a series of attacks carried out by Muslim separatists on schools in the region. Over 1,300 schools were shut down as a precautionary measure.

In Thailand’s southern most provinces Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, on the border to Malaysia, separatist groups have for years been fighting against state control for more autonomy. They have carried out attacks on police stations, used car bombs and fired machine guns at stores and public establishments. They have threatened shopkeepers who have their stores open on Muslim holidays. They behead people they suspect of sympathizing with the government in Bangkok. Such incidences take place nearly on a daily basis just a few hundred kilometers away from Phuket and the idyllic tourist destinations of the west coast.

In December, the International Crisis Group (ICG) published a study which said there was a bloody civil war going on in the south of Thailand which was becoming more violent and brutal by the day. Over 5,000 people have died since the wave of violence broke out in 2004.

Around two million people live in the southern provinces. The majority of them — 80 percent — are Muslim of Malayan decent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: East Java: Six Catholic Schools Could be Shut Down for Not Teaching Islam

The authorities threaten to close the schools by 19 January. Until now Christian schools have never been required to offer courses and seminars on the Qur’an. Given the sensitive nature of the matter, school administrators are not making any public statement.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Municipal authorities in Blitar, a town in East Java province, are threatening to shut down six Catholic schools “by 19 January” if the latter do not provide Islamic courses and readings of the Qur’an to their Muslim students, in accordance with regional bylaw n. 8 of 2012, which requires all Muslim students to receive Islamic courses in school. The latter is based on a national law, the National Education Act n. 55 of 2007.

The six Catholic schools at risk are the Diponegoro Catholic High School, the Catholic Vocational Training High School, Saint Mary KG, Saint Mary Elementary School, and Yos Sudarso Catholic Elementary and Yos Sudarso Catholic Junior High School.

The schools received the municipal injunction in the final days of 2012, but their administrators have refused to comply with the directive by 19 January, this according to the head of the local department of the Religious Affairs Ministry.

So far, school administrators have not released any official statement on the matter because of the sensitive nature of the issue. Before expressing any opinion, they are set to take part in meetings with Catholic leaders.

Sources within the schools note however that Muslim students and their families had accepted their teaching programmes “without complaining.” No one has ever “objected on religious grounds”.

In fact, it has been a long established practice that Indonesia’s private Christian schools, including those run by the Catholic Church, are not required to offer courses on Islam or readings of the Qur’an as in public schools. Instead, they provide courses and seminars on Christianity and catechism.

Muslim students who attend these schools can for their part take courses on Islam sponsored by their respective Muslim group.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Malaysia Rated Most Muslim-Friendly Destination

AFP — Malaysia has been rated the world’s top Muslim-friendly holiday destination in a survey that listed Egypt, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Singapore as runners-up.

The study by Singapore-based Muslim travel consultancy Crescentrating ranked countries on how well they cater to the growing number of Muslim holidaymakers seeking halal — or Islam-compliant — food and services.

It used criteria including the level of safety in a country, the ease of access to halal food and prayer facilities, and whether hotels cater to the needs of Muslim guests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Unrest and Political Uncertainty: Pakistan Tumbles Into Chaos

A self-proclaimed revolutionary is attracting mass protests, while the highest court has ordered the prime minister’s arrest and the military waits in the wings. Pakistan is in the grips of a major political upheaval.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East

‘China Plant Could Make 100,000 Jeeps a Year’ Says Fiat CEO

Fiat-Chrysler factory ‘maybe up and running by mid-2014’

(ANSA) — Milan, January 17 — Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Thursday that plants in China could be putting out 100,000 vehicles a year under the iconic American Jeep brand by mid-2014 through a partnership with Chinese carmaker GAC.

“In China, with GAC, 100,000 vehicles could be produced every year,” he said at an automotive event in Milan. “The plant is ready and could potentially start production within 18 months”.

The deal with GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Group) was announced Tuesday. In a statement, the automakers said that “production in China” was limited to vehicles for the “Chinese market only”.

Building Jeeps in China made international headlines during the 2011 American election season when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney falsely suggested that Chrysler would transfer all Jeep production from Ohio to China. The Chinese automaker already builds the Fiat Viaggio and distributes in China imported models such as the trendy Fiat 500, Freemont and Bravo. The plant, located in the Changsha, south-central China, will eventually produce up to 300,000 vehicles under Fiat and Chrysler brands.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

China Defends Export Data After Economists’ Skepticism

China’s customs administration said every dollar of trade is documented, defending the quality of export data that analysts at UBS AG and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) said may fail to capture the true picture.

“Customs import and export statistics are based upon actual customs declarations,” the General Administration of Customs said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, responding to questions submitted by Bloomberg News on Jan. 11. “In our published export and import data, every dollar has a corresponding customs declaration document to back it.”

China’s unexpected 14.1 percent export gain in December from a year earlier spurred skepticism from economists at banks including UBS, which cited discrepancies with other nations’ trade data. The Ministry of Commerce said today that exporters hurried shipments before a waiver of inspection fees expired at the end of the month and it was wrong to speculate that the data was false.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Japanese Airlines Suspend All Boeing 787 Dreamliner Flights

Japan’s two major airlines have grounded all Dreamliner models after a Boeing 787 was forced to make an emergency landing due to a malfunction. The announcement came after a week of technical problems for Boeing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Stability Counts for China’s Middle Class

China’s Communist Party aims at strengthening the middle class to maintain stability in the country. But contrary to what many in the West might take this to mean, a turn towards democracy is not likely.

When thousands of demonstrators took to the street on multiple occasions at the end of October in the wealthy eastern Chinese port city of Ningbo and successfully stopped the construction of an oil refinery, it soon became clear: the protesters were all middle class citizens. That was easy to see on the many pictures taken with smartphones that circulated. Their concern: the refinery would pose health risks. The Communist Party, which had placed so much emphasis on stability ahead of its 18th Party Congress, yielded to the demands as soon as it became clear the protests would not be easy to quell.

Is this a sign that Ningbo is a turning point for the development of China’s middle class? Could it even be a sign that the middle class is demanding more participation in politics as was the case in South Korea and Taiwan in the course of economic development?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tokyo Prepares for Long-Overdue ‘Big One’

As the two-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake approaches, people who live and work in Tokyo are taking precautions for when the long-overdue earthquake that everyone refers to as the “Big One” strikes.

In August 2011, five months after large parts of northeast Japan were devastated by a magnitude-9 tremor and the tsunami that it triggered, scientists at the Tokyo Earthquake Research Institute released the results of a deeply worrying study.

Their research showed that the March 11, 2011, quake had exerted tremendous pressures in the tectonic plates that meet directly beneath Tokyo, significantly raising the possibility of two or more focal points on the plate boundaries shifting simultaneously. That, they estimate, could result in an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3.

And while that is smaller than the quake that struck the Tohoku region, the impact on a densely populated and built-up area could be catastrophic. “We estimate that 10,000 people would die and the economic loss would be around 1 trillion US dollars,” said Naoshi Hirata, a researcher at the institute.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tokyo Suspends All Boeing 787 for Safety Concerns

The ANA stops the flights of 17 Dreamliners, Japan Airlines stops all flights for today. A Boeing 787 was in danger of catching fire. A long series of incidents hampers new plane, built with carbon compounds to consume less fuel. But there are many problems. The dilemma for the airlines.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Japan’s two major airlines have decided today to ground all Boeing 787s after an emergency landing of Dremliner jet carrying passengers.

The Boeing 787 is the leader in commercial flights, but a series of accidents has highlighted growing concerns about its safety.

All Nippon Airways Co (ANA) today decided to ground 17 of its 787s, Japan Airlines has suspended all its flights for today. Both companies use half of the 50 Dreamliners previously supplied by Boeing.

According to an ANA report this morning, flight 692 from Yamaguchi (west) to Haneda (near Tokyo), at one point showed a problem with the battery forcing an emergency landing. The battery is the same type that last week caused a fire on a Dremliner in the United States.

The pilots have confirmed to ANA they smelled smoke in the cabin, followed by an electronic warning. All 129 passengers were evacuated through the emergency slides.

Today’s incident is the latest in a long series of problems to hit the new Dreamliner. The sophisticated aircraft — the world’s first built with carbon compounds to use less fuel — has suffered fuel leaks, fires, battery malfunctions, electrical problems, breakdowns of the on-board computer, cracked cabin windshields, etc..

Marc Birtel, spokesman for Boeing, told Reuters that the company is aware of what has happened and is working with its customers.

Different airlines that have bought the Boeing 787 so far are studying what to do. The Australian company Qantas said it would continue to purchase 15 Dreamliners. India, which already has five of them, said it will study the problems of aircraft safety.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australian Amateur Prospector Finds Massive Gold Nugget

An amateur prospector in the Australian state of Victoria has astonished experts by unearthing a gold nugget weighing 5.5kg (177 ounces).

The unidentified man, using a handheld metal detector, found the nugget on Wednesday, lying 60cm underground near the town of Ballarat. Its value has been estimated at more than A$300,000 ($315,000: £197,000).

Local gold experts say gold has been prospected in the area for decades, but no such discovery had been made before. “I have been a prospector and dealer for two decades, and cannot remember the last time a nugget over 100 ounces (2.8kg) has been found locally,” said Cordell Kent, owner of the Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop.

“It’s extremely significant as a mineral specimen. We are 162 years into a gold rush and Ballarat is still producing nuggets — it’s unheard of.”

A video of the Y-shaped nugget was posted on YouTube on Wednesday by user TroyAurum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Italy Ready to Give Logistical Support to France in Mali

‘Quick solution’ needed, says Foreign Minister Terzi

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Italy is ready to give logistical support to the French military intervention in Mali, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi told the Senate on Wednesday. On Friday French President Francois Hollande said the French armed forces had started a operation to help the Mali government combat Islamic rebels.

Terzi said Wednesday that had discussed supporting France’s operation with Premier Mario Monti and Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola.

“It is important to seek a quick solution to this crisis and avoid the endemic presence of terrorist forces in the country,” said Terzi.

Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola told the Senate that Italy is ready to grant logistical support ‘through air connections also for French forces’ operating in Mali. Di Paola added the support would be logistical and not “on the ground”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy to Send Up to 24 to EU Training Mission in Mali

EU foreign ministers agree to send 250 personnel

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Brussels, January 17 — Italy will send as many as 24 people to a European training mission for government military forces in conflict-torn Mali, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Thursday.

An initial total of 250 European trainers could be increased to 500, if required, Terzi added after taking part in an emergency meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on Mali.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mali Islamists Much Stronger Than Expected: France

French forces in Mali have been taken by surprise by the fighting strength of the Islamist radicals they are attempting to drive out of the centre of the country, it emerged on Sunday.

Aides to President Francois Hollande admitted the militants were better equipped, armed and trained than they had expected.

“What has struck us markedly is how modern their equipment is and their ability to use it,” one said in a reference to the rebels’ hit on a French Gazelle helicopter.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mali: EU Greenlights 450-Personnel, 12.3 Mln Euro Mission

Up to 24 Italians to participate in EUMT, Terzi

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 17 — European Union states agreed to send up to 450 military personnel to train Mali government forces in fighting Islamist rebels, EU foreign ministers made known on Thursday.

The so-called European Union Training Mission (EUTM) will include 200 instructors for an initial 15-month mandate at a cost of 12.3 million euros. The mission will be headquartered in the capital, Bamako, and training will take place in the southern part of the country. EUTM will also provide consulting on operations, logistics, and civilian protection, but will not take part in military actions directly.

Italy will send “up to 24 personnel”, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said, adding that it “gives a positive overall evaluation of the international community’s action, as sanctioned by UN Security Council Resolution 2085 and reinforced by a unanimous Security Council declaration, including Russia and China, calling on everyone to support the Mali government in combating terrorist forces.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South African President Praises French Actions in Africa

(AGI) Luanda — South African President Zuma praised French actions in Mali and Hollande’s consulting with African leaders .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Two Tonnes of Black-Market Ivory Worth £700,000 Seized in Kenya in Biggest Seizure the Country Has Ever Made

Police in Kenya have seized two tonnes of ivory worth more than £700,000 in the biggest haul the country has ever seen.

Kenya’s Revenue Authority said customs officers had impounded 638 pieces of elephant tusk in a shipping container purporting to be carrying ‘decoration stones’.

The seizure comes over a week after 11 elephants were killed in a Kenyan park and their tusks chopped off.

‘The ivory was originating from Rwanda and Tanzania and was to be exported to Indonesia.’

Elephant poaching deaths are on the rise across Africa because of increased demand from Asia — and particularly from China — for ivory trinkets.

[Return to headlines]

Immigration

250,000 Bulgarians and Romanians ‘To Head to UK’

The Government has refused to issue an estimate of the number of foreign workers who are expected move to the UK from the two countries after getting the right to work in Britain.

But an analysis of the numbers who flooded into the country from Poland and other Eastern European countries in 2004 showed around 50,000 migrants a year for the next five years could head to the UK, the campaign group Migration Watch UK said.

The influx of foreign workers is expected to be lower than nine years ago as temporary restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania have been in place and other European countries will be lifting their controls at the same time.

But Britain remains one of the most attractive destinations for migrants, “partly because of its flexible labour market and partly because of the ease of access to its benefits system”, Migration Watch said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Canada to Resettle Up to 5,000 Iranian and Iraqi Refugees by 2018

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced plans to resettle up to 5,000 Iranian and Iraqi refugees, presently in Turkey, by 2018. Citing “escalating violence in the region,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney outlined his government’s intention to “help Turkey deal with this growing pressure.” He also commended the government of Turkey “for keeping her borders open to those fleeing the ongoing conflict in the region.”

It is expected that this undertaking will help ease the existing burden on Turkey, freeing up the Turkish government’s resources to deal with the current influx of Syrians seeking protection in the country.

Minister Kenney reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to its 2009 and 2010 pledges of resettling 20,000 Iraqi refugees. To date, it has resettled 12,000, most of them from Syria.

Most of the refugees will be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for resettlement.

Canada is one of a few countries operating a resettlement program out of Turkey, and is second only to the United States as a destination for refugees from the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Gauck: Refugees Offer Hope for German Future

President Joachim Gauck has called on Germans to see refugees and immigrants as a chance for the country’s future, saying they should be welcomed with open arms as they could help maintain living standards for coming generations.

He spoke as the Interior Ministry released figures showing that the number of applications for asylum had risen by 41 percent during 2012, with more people fleeing Syria and the Balkans than previously.

“We need open doors for the persecuted, and not only due to our constitution and our history but also for economic reasons,” said Gauck on Tuesday.

“Immigrants can help us to keep the living standards from today into the next generation — they should be greeted by the people with open hearts or at least be accepted gladly.” It was time for a new welcoming culture, he said.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said that last year 6,201 people from Syria applied for asylum in Germany — an increase of 135 percent on the previous year. Syrians fleeing the civil war at home formed the third largest group applying for asylum in Germany after Serbians and Afghans.

More than two thirds of those who escaped Syria were granted protection from extradition.

Last year just over 64,500 people applied for asylum in Germany, just over 14 percent of whom were granted refugee status. A further 13.5 percent were given protection from extradition, while 49.7 percent saw their application rejected.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Bern Braces for Influx of Asylum Seekers

Swiss authorities are bracing for an increase in asylum seekers this year beyond what the federal government has budgeted for, according to a report from SRF, the German-language public broadcaster.

Last year the government budgeted for 23,000 asylum applications for 2013 but that figure is forecast to hit 30,000.

Karl Schwaar told SRF that costs to deal with political refugees are expected to rise to 1.43 billion francs, 100 million francs more than has been budgeted through a three-year plan.

That spending level would be the highest since 1999, marking an increase of half a billion francs in five years.

The federal government will be forced to seek a supplementary credit in the autumn just to deal with extra expenditures for this year, the result of increased asylum applications.

The government did not specifically pinpoint the cause of the increase, occurring despite tightened immigration regulations.

But the UN Refugee Agency, based in Geneva, last week identified one potential source — refugees from the conflict in Syria.

The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries and North Africa jumped by 100,000 to 600,000 in the past month, the UNHCR said.

That number is expected to rise to 1.1 million by next June if the war in Syria continues, the agency said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Up to 70,000 Romanian and Bulgarian Migrants a Year ‘Will Come to Britain’ When Controls on EU Migrants Expire

Up to 70,000 Bulgarians and Romanians will travel to Britain each year when they finally gain open access to the jobs market, a report claims today.

Almost 29million people from the two countries will be free to work in Britain from the end of this year when temporary controls on new EU migrants expire.

But although ministers have their own estimate of the scale of the influx, they refuse to reveal it.

The figure is likely to be the crucial factor in deciding whether the Government will hit the Prime Minister’s goal of cutting net migration — the difference between those arriving and leaving each year — to ‘tens of thousands’

But it warns the figure could soar if Roma gipsies or the nearly 1million Romanians already in other EU countries also come.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but the number who could take jobs here was capped at 25,000 for low-skilled workers. That limit expires this year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

HBO’s ‘Girls’ Celebrates Dysfunction

“Girls,” which won “Best Comedy” at the Golden Globe Awards Sunday night, is spreading worldwide like a virus. Its writer, producer and star, Lena Dunham, 26, who won “Best Actress,” has used her wit and chutzpah to market her dysfunctional life as emblematic of her generation.

While most people squirm at the many nauseous sex scenes and the general vacuity of these girls, many in the worldwide audience will miss the intended irony. They will accept Dunham as a role model.

Lena Dunham is rich and famous. How bad could her lifestyle be?

In the bad old days, men had to court and marry a woman to get sex. He had to love her. Now, thanks to feminism, women give their bodies first and hope someone eventually will love them afterward. Feminists call this “empowerment.”

[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Opposes Same-Sex Marriage, Offending Some Activists

Stand on marriage and adoption ‘too general’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 17 — Outgoing premier Mario Monti sparked criticism from gay groups Thursday after stating his opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption.

Groups representing gays in Italy said that they were disappointed by the statement made one day earlier by Mont, who is campaigning for election next month at the head of a centrist coalition.

“The statement is a bit too general for a leader who is inspired by Europe and aims to continue to lead the government of the country,” said Fabrizio Marrazzo, spokesman for Rome’s Gay Centre.

Monti should be more specific about what kinds of unions and rights he would protect, said Marrazzo.

“It seems that many politicians, including Monti, are more inclined to say ‘no’ to marriage and reaffirm that the family is only based on a heterosexual couple,” he added. “In short, it is a way to discriminate against gay couples”.

It is also out of step with the progressive elements of Europe, said Andrea Maccarrone, president of the Circolo Mario Mieli.

With his remarks, Monti “blows away any remaining illusions of…being considered a leader of European calibre”.

Monti told a television interview Wednesday night, “The family should be made up of one man and one woman, and I consider it necessary that children should grow up with a mother and a father”.

Puglia’s left-wing, gay governor, Nichi Vendola, also chimed in with a remark recalling Monti’s characterisation of him as a “conservative” opposed to the outgoing premier’s market-boosting reform agenda.

Vendola, the chief ally of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said ironically, “thank goodness he was the progressive, and me the conservative”. None of the main contenders in the elections has come out in favour of gay marriage or gay adoption rights, although PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani is in favour of bringing in Germany-style civil unions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Obama the Children Savior Champion of Partial Birth Abortion

The White House spokesman Jay Carney-identified “little kids”, filling in as props at Barack Hussein Obama’s gun proposal presser today, have more respect for human life than the president does.

Young as they are, those with baby brothers and sisters at home, would be absolutely traumatized to know that as a senator Obama championed partial birth abortion, the brutal slaughter of babies who make it through abortion.

“President Obama voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act four times, horrifyingly voting against protecting babies who survived abortion and voting in favor of leaving them to die. (LifeNews).

While the children props of today would never have known, it was the same Obama standing among them, eliciting chuckles and laugher when reading out some of their letters in what must be the most hypocritical bid of all time to champion the lives of children.

How many of the children surrounding Obama today know that Planned Parenthood’s funding jumped from 33% to nearly 50%—over $487 million in taxpayer funding now goes to the abortion giant (under Obama and his administration)? This is almost half a billion dollars that American families are forced to pay in tax dollars—no matter how hard they struggle in the current economy—to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Public Schools Are Teaching What?

Obama has again added to his long train of abuses against We the People, this time in the education of American school children.

Obama has illegally implemented an extensive overhaul of public education from kindergarten through high school, bypassing Congress (again), the voice of the American people, and inducing states to agree to major changes that none of his predecessors attempted.

Apparently Barack Hussein Obama, the self-proclaimed “Constitutional Scholar” hasn’t taken the time to read Article 10 of the Bill of Rights. The federal government has no business whatsoever in the education of American schoolchildren.

This is through something called the Common Core Standards, which has been implemented in 46 states and D.C., drowning students with mostly “informational text” and historical documents.

Some of the non-fiction texts that will be implemented into school curriculum are “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.

[…]

In recent years, American public schools have also been indoctrinated with the Muslim religion. Studies have shown over 500 historical errors in public school textbooks, giving an Islamic slant to our youth.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

School Teaches That Whites Are ‘Oppressors’

If someone ever needed evidence that the agenda of the public school system has been completely taken over by radical, left-wing thinking, just look at what’s being taugh at one Wisconsin school. Under the banner of “diversity,” high school students are being taught that whites are the bad guys and everyone else is a victim.

As reported by Fox News, the “American Diversity” class at Delavan-Darien High School is under fire for a curriculm focused on “white guilt.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Teachers Shouldn’t Use Red Coloured Pens to Mark Homework ‘Because it’s Like Shouting and Upsets Pupils’

Sociologists Richard Dukes and Heather Albanesi from the University of Colorado told the Journal of Social Science: ‘The red grading pen can upset students and weaken teacher-student relations and perhaps learning.’

In 2008, hundreds of schools banned teachers from using red ink to correct work because they considered it ‘confrontational’ and ‘threatening’.

But Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, slammed the findings saying: ‘In my own experience of 35 years in teaching is that children actually prefer teachers to use red ink because they can read comments more easily.

‘I think this research is misguided. The problem with using a colour like green or blue is that it’s not clear.

‘A lot of schools seem to have a culture where they don’t like critcising children but actually this helps them.

‘It’s not intimidating children want to see where they’ve made a mistake. I think it’s a rather silly idea.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Two 6-Year-Olds Suspended for Playing Cops and Robbers — ‘Finger Guns’ To Blame

Last week, two six-year-old students from White Marsh Elementary School in Maryland, were hauled into the principal’s office. Their crime was one for the record books. The boys had committed the unforgivable sin of pointing imaginary “finger guns” at each other.

Since we live in a zero-tolerance world, where adults are incapable of discerning imaginary violence from the real thing, Principal Marcia Sprankle suspended the children immediately.

You read that right. They were suspended for the illegal use of “finger guns.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General

Tiny Solar Activity Changes Affect Earth’s Climate

Even small changes in solar activity can impact Earth’s climate in significant and surprisingly complex ways, researchers say.

The sun is a constant star when compared with many others in the galaxy. Some stars pulsate dramatically, varying wildly in size and brightness and even exploding. In comparison, the sun varies in the amount of light it emits by only 0.1 percent over the course of a relatively stable 11-year-long pattern known as the solar cycle.

Still, “the light reaching the top of the Earth’s atmosphere provides about 2,500 times as much energy as the total of all other sources combined,” solar physicist Greg Kopp at the University of Colorado told SPACE.com. As such, even 0.1 percent of the amount of light the sun emits exceeds all other energy sources the Earth’s atmosphere sees combined, such as the radioactivity naturally emitted from Earth’s core, Kopp explained.

To learn more about how such tiny variations in solar energy might impact terrestrial climate, the National Research Council (NRC) convened dozens of experts in many fields, such as plasma physics, solar activity, atmospheric chemistry, fluid dynamics and energetic particle physics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20130115

USA
» America’s Ship of State
» As America Stands on the Verge of Domestic War, My Heart Sobs for History Harshly Learned
» Hagel’s Controversial Foreign Connections and Backers
» IRS Declares War on Employers
» Liberators Arm, Totalitarians Disarm, The People
» New Video Game ‘Shoots’ Nra’s LaPierre
» Obama Interested in ‘Allah-is-God’ Curriculum
» The Fox Effect: PT. 4
» The Regimentation of Idiots
» U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens
» Why Liberals Hate Guns
 
Europe and the EU
» EPP Caucus Leader Daul Backs Monti as Premier
» Gang of Men ‘Groomed Girls as Young as 11 for Sex, Trafficked Them Across the UK and Attacked Them With Meat Cleavers and Baseball Bats’
» Italy: Berlusconi Hits Back at Monti
» Italy: Ex-Northern League Treasurer Charged With Embezzlement
» Italy: ‘Monti Has Taken Everyone for a Ride’, Berlusconi Says
» Italy: Pope’s Personal Secretary Makes Cover of Vanity Fair
» Mayor of Corleone Says His Town No Longer Home for Mafia
» UK: Collapsed HMV Under Fire as it Refuses to Accept Vouchers it Was Selling Until Yesterday
» UK: Former BNP Member Sets Up New Rival Far Right Political Party
» UK: Imran Ahmed: Care Home Owner Sentenced for £100,000 Theft
» UK: Innocent Grandmother Arrested After Grandson Tricks Her Into Giving Him a Lift to Pick Up Cash He Stole in Robbery
» UK: Jury Selection Begins for Oxford Sex Ring Trial
» UK: Liverpool Double Rapist Mindaugas Budkus Jailed
» UK: Lesbian Murdered Her Lover With Ornamental Swan After Row Over Finances and Hid Body at Bottom of Garden Under Old Settee
» UK: Man Jailed for North Woolwich Killing
» UK: Ministers Agree to Amend Laws After Campaign Led by Rowan Atkinson
» UK: Outrage as Hospital Bans Patients Weighing More Than 15 Stone From Emergency Ward Due to Health and Safety
» UK: Troitino: Mass Murderers Have Human Rights Too
 
North Africa
» Clinton Publicly Linked Benghazi to Video Before Woods and Doherty Were Killed
» Muslims Demolish Church Building in Egypt
» Tunisia Celebrates Anniversary of Revolution Amid Tensions
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Haaretz Paper Calls on Arab Voter to Turn Out
 
Middle East
» For the First Time, Kuwaiti Women Will be Able to Become Judges
» Syria’s Assad Living on Warship Protected by Russian Navy
» Turkey: Erdogan Likely to Lift Headscarf Ban for Uni Profs
» Turkey: Gov’t Introduces Anti-Violence Bracelet for Women
 
South Asia
» Islam ‘Helped to Shape’ CIA Nominee John Brennan’s World View
» More Suicides Than Combat Losses Among US Soldiers in 2012
» Ordinary Indonesians Against Judges and Politicians Who “Justify” Sexual Violence
 
Far East
» China Tightens ‘Great Firewall’ Internet Control With New Technology
» Italy: Chrysler Close to Signing Production Deal for Jeeps in China
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» France Seeks Gulf Arab Help for Mali Campaign
» Mali Intervention Supported by 63 Pct of French People
» Mali: UAE Giving Material, Financial Aid, Hollande Says
 
Immigration
» Italy: Police Bust Alleged Somali Migrant Trafficking Ring
» UK: Immigration Adviser Admits Organising Sham Marriages
» UK: Legal Boss Who Helped Arrange Sham Marriages Faces Jail
 
Culture Wars
» Churches ‘Could be Sued for Refusing to Agree to Gay Marriages’
» ‘Thank You Jesus’: Christian British Airways Employee Tells of Joy as After European Court Finds She Did Suffer Discrimination Over Silver Cross
» UK: CofE ‘Will be Sued Over Gay Marriage’: Human Rights Law ‘Undermines’ Cameron Plans
 
General
» Crazy New Exploit Can Brick Samsung Phones or Steal All Their Data
» Powell Says GOP Holds ‘Dark Vein of Intolerance’

USA

America’s Ship of State

Since George Washington retired as the commander of the Ship of State two hundred sixteen years ago, forty-three different men have commanded America’s Ship of State. The newest commander, who took charge four years ago, is Barack Obama. While he has been commander of America’s Ship of State, he has guided it into many dangerous and uncharted waters. Therefore, America’s Ship of State has floated off the original course that George Washington had set for it when he was the commander. As a result, the Ship of State hit a myriad of icebergs of un-Americanism that was responsible for cracking its hull. Some of these icebergs of un-Americanism were:

  • Circumventing the U.S. Constitution as the rule of law.
  • Attempting to create a one-party, socialist government.
  • Removing God from every part of the public sector.
  • Attempting to deny American citizens their right to bear arms.
  • Labeling law-abiding American citizens as “potential terrorists.”
  • Forcing American workers to join unions in order to get a job in America.
  • Nominating anti-American Marxists, Communists, and Socialists to key executive positions.
  • Attempting to bankrupt America with a government-funded healthcare program.
  • Attempting to create a government-funded welfare state.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

As America Stands on the Verge of Domestic War, My Heart Sobs for History Harshly Learned

(NaturalNews) Those who live in artificial cities, plugged into the fabricated media and hypnotized by television are unable to see it, but America stands today on the verge of war. Not war for an enemy in some far-off land, but war with an enemy that has cleverly occupied our soil, our structures of power and our information infrastructure. This enemy is the enemy within, and it is insidious, dangerous and voracious in its appetite for power.

This enemy devours liberty without thought. It usurps power without conscience. It manipulates minds as quietly as a python enveloping its sleeping prey. It is a sinister serpent that strangles freedom, and it is this serpent that the masses have placed into power and begged to abandon the separation of powers that have kept our Republic relatively free for over two hundred years.

Today, America stands on the verge of domestic war precisely because America stands on the verge of dictatorship. A corporate-flavored variety of fascism has reared its ugly soul, where corporations and government conspire in dark rooms to rob from the American people their health, their paychecks, their voices and their rifles. The face of that fascism is unimportant because it is the same face that fascists have presented throughout history: the face of a talented orator, a handsome, even noble-looking gentleman, a man of the people who explains that his acts of power usurpation are only pursued with great reluctance and at the desperate demand of his constituents. This is the well-worn justification of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Teng, and now Barack Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hagel’s Controversial Foreign Connections and Backers

Two seemingly unrelated events—Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief and the sale of Al Gore’s Current TV to Al Jazeera—are coming together in a way that illustrates the role that the foreign propaganda channel can and will play if Congress lets the television deal go through.

House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul is being encouraged by a group of media critics, journalists, academics, and national security and Middle East experts, to open hearings into Al Jazeera’s media power play on American soil.

In regard to Hagel, Breitbart blogger William Bigelow notes that Al Jazeera seems to be having a love affair with the Obama nominee. Bigelow wrote, “Al Jazeera is rejoicing in his nomination for Secretary of Defense.” Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily notes that Hagel gave Al Jazeera an interview in 2009 arguing that the U.S. and Russia should phase out their nuclear weapons.

It also turns out that Hagel appeared on Russia Today (RT), an official mouthpiece for the Vladimir Putin regime.

[…]

But if Al Jazeera likes Hagel, the feeling is mutual. The Washington Free Beacon has posted a clip from the Al Jazeera interview [URL to video], in which Hagel agrees with the observation from a viewer that America has an image as “the world’s bully.” He clearly enjoyed the appearance on the Qatar-owned propaganda channel and thought nothing about bashing his own country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

IRS Declares War on Employers

According to ObamaCare, if you have 50 full-time employees, you have to have an employer-paid health care plan. Some businesses are trying to avoid the costs by maintaining fewer than 50 full-time employees. That’s what the law says they can do.

But the IRS has other ideas. In the new rule just proposed, the IRS will count two part-time employees as one full-time equivalent for the purpose of enforcing the rule. So if you have 40 full-time employees and 20 part-time employees, as far as the IRS is concerned you have 50 full-timers and you are required to buy them health insurance or pay the ObamaCare fine.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Liberators Arm, Totalitarians Disarm, The People

The demagogic efforts of the Liberal/Progressive political regime of Barack Hussein Obama to find some mechanism to attenuate or eliminate the Second Amendment right “of the people to bear” arms, without allowing a vote “by the people” on whether to amend the Constitution pursuant to the procedures provided by the Founding Fathers, raise many questions, including:

Would the Liberal/Progressives who are frothing at the mouth to take away the arms possessed by Americans have taken the same position to strip the Second Amendment right to bear arms from such Americans as, for instance, famed Christian Minister and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, who, pursuant to the Second Amendment, openly bought and provided guns to abolitionists to defend against the tyranny of government-approved slavery? (Author William J. Federer details Beecher’s arming abolitionists in Federer’s http://www.AmericanMinute.com, Jan. 13, 2013.)

Would modern Liberal/Progressives who are so willing to strip this generation of Americans of our Second Amendment rights, tell Henry Ward Beecher’s sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, that she really should not have a Constitutional Second Amendment right to have a gun in the house while she was writing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” or after its publication?

Would they take away the arms of the anti-slavery Americans who risked their lives to save the lives of escaping slaves through the “underground railroad?”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Video Game ‘Shoots’ Nra’s LaPierre

‘Before I could even utter a word to scold my child, he clicked his mouse’

(WASHINGTON TIMES) A new online video game takes shots at the Second Amendment by enticing players to take head shots at their most hated National Rifle Association officials.

A poster at the conservative Free Republic site stumbled on the game, and had this to say: “I was walking past my son’s room … and heard the sound of [NRA Executive Vice President] Wayne LaPierre’s voice. … I opened the door [and] the image on the screen stopped me cold.” The son was playing a video game that opened with the recreation of LaPierre’s speech about the Newtown Conn., school killings. “In that game was a virtual Wayne LaPierre, standing at his podium, giving his speech, with a crosshair over his head. Before I could even utter a word to scold my child, he clicked his mouse. And the virtual Wayne LaPierre’s face disappeared in a spray of blood.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Interested in ‘Allah-is-God’ Curriculum

Source says federal officials pursuing program used in Texas

CSCOPE, the controversial online curriculum that taught “Allah is God” and currently is used in 80 percent of Texas school districts, has caught the attention of the Obama administration’s Department of Education.

A source in the Texas education system has told WND that Common Core operatives in the U.S. Department of Education are actively pursuing CSCOPE as a way around the Texas legislative process.

Texas is one of the few states still resisting implementation of Common Core, Obama’s national standards initiative, which many feel is a transparent attempt to nationalize education and progressively control classroom content with minimal parental oversight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Fox Effect: PT. 4

by Diana West

Last night, Bill O’Reilly devoted his “Impact Segment” to the Silence of the Non-Fox Media on the Gore-Al Jazeera deal. As noted in the past week of coverage at this website, Fox has been covering the deal with righteous, if micro-targeted indignation (Al Gore, Hypocrite) while overlooking choice hypocrisy (and worse) on its own team (Murdoch’s House of Saud connections).

O’Reilly’s “Memo” last night (video above) only underscored this troubling pattern.

O’Reilly:

Network news pretty much ignored Al Gore selling his cable network to Al Jazeera. Scant mention. MSNBC in prime time didn’t mention it at all. Again, are you surprised? But think about this: What if Mitt Romney had sold one of his companies to Al Jazeera?

Irrepressible thought bubble: What if Rupert Murdoch had sold a chunk of News Corp. to a senior member of the House of Saud? Oh wait — he did.

O’Reilly:

Think the national news media would have ignored it? They would not. They would have been hysterical. And that proves once again how corrupt the national media really is [sic]. The same standards of reportage are not applied to Repblicans and Democrats. Liberal democats like Al Gore are favored big time.

Now, one guy who did address the issue is New York Post media writer Phil Mushnick. In his column of Sunday, Mushnick said this, quote: “As a private citizen, Gore should not have been able to make such a transaction unless he was registered as a certified foreign agent” unquote — Mushnick pointing to the fact that the country of Qatar owns Al Jazeera.

A pertinent notion — although if Gore’s role at the network is over I don’t see how the sale alone, presumably approved by the US government (not that that’s a Good Housekeeping Seal), makes him an agent of the Qatari government. Will the new “Al Jazeera America” network, owned by the Qatari dynasty, be required to register as an agent of Qatar? If so, shouldn’t Murdoch’s News Corp. — part-owned by Prince Talal bin Alwaleed — be called upon to register also as an agent of Saudi Arabia? (I called for News Corp. to register as a foreign agent in 2010.) Murdoch, meanwhile, owns 18.97 percent of Alwaleed’s Rotana, an Arabic media company.

What say O’Reilly?

But Mushnick is not correct. There is no federal law restricting the sale of an American cable network to a foreign governent.

Aha. I didn’t know such an exemption for cable networks exists. Such an exemption spares Fox foreign agent requirements just as much as it does Current TV. Shouldn’t O’Reilly, though, in the spirit of full disclosure for “the folks,” mention in passing the existence of the Saudi stake in News Corp.?

Nah. What they don’t know won’t hurt his ratings. But O’Reilly goes on to make further use of this exemption … to pat himself and Fox on the back!

You see, that’s an example of what we do here. Fair reporting, even if it’s favorable to a guy we don’t have much use for: Al Gore.

He continues:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

The Regimentation of Idiots

“I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.” — Barack Obama

Horse Manure! What our imperialist president means is that the government, in his mind, must maintain absolute control over the thoughts and actions of the great unwashed that they might be collectively subject to totalitarian rigid discipline, order, and systematization. In this regard he is much like Abraham Lincoln, that great flamboyant deceiver who regimented a nation by the instrument of war; a war that he conceived and set into motion unilaterally in spite of opposition by the people — or their representatives — whom he was elected to serve domestically and represent internationally as president.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens

Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime.

Not everyone was on board. “This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.

A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews with officials at numerous agencies, The Wall Street Journal has reconstructed the clash over the counterterrorism program within the administration of President Barack Obama. The debate was a confrontation between some who viewed it as a matter of efficiency—how long to keep data, for instance, or where it should be stored—and others who saw it as granting authority for unprecedented government surveillance of U.S. citizens.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Liberals Hate Guns

Why the left hates something — free enterprise, the “rich,” religion, Israel, America — says more about liberals than it does about the thing itself.

So it is with the left’s endless, and increasingly manic, drive for more of what it disarmingly calls gun control, which many acknowledge to be a series of way stations on the road to total confiscation. In a 1995 CBS “60 Minutes” interview, Senator Diane Feinstein (D—Haight-Ashbury) confessed, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them — Mr. and Mrs. America turn ‘em all in — I would have done it.” What’s the difference between Hitler, Stalin and Feinstein — besides the facial hair?

After the Newtown tragedy, and with a president who treats the Constitution as an annoying inconvenience, gun-grabbers are like gerbils on speed. The latest proposed attacks on the Second Amendment include: banning so-called assault weapons, banning large-capacity magazines, requiring a license to buy ammunition, preventing anyone under 21 from carrying a gun, requiring background checks for all gun sales (private and gun shows) and more stringent licensing of gun owners.

In Connecticut, State Representative Stephen Dargan (D—New Haven) has introduced a bill to make public the names and addresses of all of the state’s 170,000 licensed gun owners. Why stop there? They could just select at random a few dozen gun owners a day, take them out and beat them to death.

The object of anti-gun hysteria — Saturday Night Specials (“cheap and readily concealed,” in the liberal jargon of the day) or so-called assault rifles — shifts with opportunity. The root causes of the obsession remain the same.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EPP Caucus Leader Daul Backs Monti as Premier

Confirms criticism of Berlusconi

(ANSA) — Strasburg, January 15 — Joseph Daul, caucus leader of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament on Tuesday gave his official backing to the bid by Italy’s outgoing technocrat premier Mario Monti to return to office in elections at the end of February.

Early this year Monti threw his hat into the ring at the helm of a small centrist grouping that includes the centrist Catholic UDC led by Pierferdinando Casini and the tiny FLI of the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house), Gianfranco Fini. “The EPP’s candidate is Mr Monti,” said Daul.

“But, as always in Italy, the situation is very complicated because we also have UDC and (Silvio) Berlusconi’s party, which are all members of the EPP,” he added. Daul also stood by comments made in December against ex- premier Berlusconi, who is currently leading the centre right’s election campaign, for his alleged populist and anti-European stance.

“I have never made statements to the wind and so you can be sure that my opinion has not changed,” said the Frenchman.

“It’s just that by attacking Mr Berlusconi every day I do not want to give him reason to attack me back and talk about ‘this horrible Europe’, ‘this horrible Merkel’ or ‘these horrible French’ and say ‘see how they behave’. Now that we are into the election campaign I want to respect voters and Italian citizens. And I do not need to gift 2-3% to populism,” Daul concluded. His comments were slammed by several representatives of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Berlusconi, who has has challenged Monti’s endorsement by the EPP, on Monday stressed his credentials as a Catholic candidate, saying he attended Mass daily.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Gang of Men ‘Groomed Girls as Young as 11 for Sex, Trafficked Them Across the UK and Attacked Them With Meat Cleavers and Baseball Bats’

An ‘11 or 12 year old’ victim of a child sex ring was forced to miscarry after her attacker used an ‘instrument’ on her in a home abortion when she became pregnant, a court has heard.

A gang of nine men face accusations of grooming and horrifically abusing vulnerable girls from the age of 11 — making their lives a ‘living hell.

The men, all from Oxford, allegedly plied six girls with alcohol, cocaine and heroin before repeatedly raping them.

Kamar Jamil, 27, Akthtar Dogar, 32, Anjum Dogar, 30, Assad Hussain, 32, Mohammed Karrar, 38, Bassam Karrar, 26, Mohammed Hussain, 24, Zeeshan Ahmed, 27, and Bilal Ahmed, 26, deny the charges against them.

Karrar together with other men not before the court is accused of using an instrument on one of the victims when she was 11 or 12 to force a miscarriage after she became pregnant.

They are accused of subjecting them to ‘extreme physical and sexual violence’, often beating and burning them as they raped their victims.

The Old Bailey trial has heard how there were many more potential abusers in addition to those in the dock.

It took almost half an hour for all the charges to be read to the jury.

The jury was told it would hear evidence from friends of the victims, relatives, care workers and the police.

Telephone evidence between the accused and the victims will be presented along with DNA evidence.

Mr Lucas said: ‘The evidence will show that these girls were targeted precisely because they were young.’

The men took the girls to towns and cities across the country where they suffered further sexual abuse by other men.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place over a period of eight years.

Prosecutor Noel Lucas QC said: ‘Much of what the girls were forced to endure was perverted in the extreme.

‘The depravity of what the girls were forced to endure was extreme.’

Mr Lucas told the jury of seven men and five women at the Old Bailey to ‘steel yourself’ for the evidence they were to hear.

They were told the girls became addicted to some of the drugs and felt unable to live without them making them more reliant on the men.

It was claimed the girls were often given so many drugs that they were ‘barely aware’ of what was going on.

Mr Lucas said: ‘Indeed they say that is the only way they could cope with what was going on.’

The court was told the men had ‘actively targeted vulnerable young girls from the age of about 11 or 12.’

Mr Lucas pointed out to the jury that the girls who were targeted by the men were children.

He said the men would came across the girls with ‘troubled upbringings’ and ‘unsettled homes’ when they were out drinking or playing truant.

The girls were in care homes and some of them had been sexually exploited by other men before.

Their ‘intentional and persistent’ abuse is alleged to have happened between May 2004 and early 2012.

The men deny a total of 79 charges including child rape, trafficking for sexual exploitation and arranging or facilitating child prostitution.

Mr Lucas said: ‘There is evidence that the men deliberately targeted children that were out of control.’

The men would ‘exploit their vulnerability’ knowing it was less likely that anyone would be ‘exercising any normal parental control over them or looking out for them.’

They groomed the girls by giving gifts ‘or simply showing the care and attention that they craved.’

The jury was told the girls were taken to hotels, guest houses or people’s homes for other men to have sex with them.

The men would guard the girls so they could not escape and would then be paid for providing the girls.

Men would travel to Oxford ‘often by appointment’ from as far afield as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough ‘specifically to abuse young girls’.

Sometimes the girls were taken to towns and cities such as London and Bournemouth.

Mr Lucas said the men would inflict ‘extreme physical and sexual violence on the girls’ using knives, meat cleavers and baseball bats.

They were ‘humiliated and degraded’ bitten, scratched suffocated, tied up beaten and burnt.

Sometimes the abuse would go on for ‘days on end’.

It is claimed the men also threatened the girls and their families if they should try to ‘free themselves from the grasp of the group’.

One of the victims described her ordeal at the hands of the men as a ‘living hell’.

In his opening address to the court Mr Lucas said the men had abused the six girls ‘persistently’ over long periods of time and sometimes in groups.’

They did this: ‘For their own sexual gratification and for the sexual gratification of other men.

‘The depravity of what was done to the complainants was extreme.’

The trial continues.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Hits Back at Monti

Outgoing premier called media magnate the ‘Pied Piper’

(see related stories) (ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Silvio Berlusconi hit back at outgoing Premier Mario Monti on Tuesday after being described as the “Pied Piper” by his successor as campaigning for next month’s Italian election took a bitter turn.

Monti, who took the helm of an emergency technocrat administration in November 2011 when Italy’s debt crisis forced Berlusconi to resign as premier, suggested his predecessor had sold unrealistic promises to win three stints at the helm of government.

The former European commissioner, who is standing to retain office on a reform platform backed by centrist parties, said the efforts his government has made to steer the country out of the eurozone crisis would be in vain if Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition returned to power.

“The sacrifices Italians have made in the last year can be squandered in three or four months if an old, reinvigorated illusionist goes to power,” Monti told Rai television on Monday.

Berlusconi hit back by calling Monti a “bluffer”, referring to alleged promises he made not to enter the political fray when he was appointed premier with the backing of the media magnate’s People of Freedom (PdL) party and the other big mainstream parties. He also took issue with Monti for suggesting Berlusconi was to blame for Italy’s borrowing costs spiking at the peak of the eurozone crisis, as seen in yield spreads for 10-year bonds crossing the 500-basis-points mark.

“Whoever says these things is a scoundrel,” Berlusconi told La7 television on Tuesday.

“These are left-wing statements. They are lies”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Northern League Treasurer Charged With Embezzlement

Stiffoni under investigation over one year in party scandal

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Piergiorgio Stiffoni, former treasurer of the Northern League in the Senate, was charged Tuesday with embezzlement.

Stiffoni has been under investigation for more than a year as prosecutors probed the illegal use of funds that were allocated to the political party. Investigators had previously accused members of the scandal-hit Northern League of using public party funds to buy diamonds worth 400,000 euros and gold bullion worth 200,000 euros.

The accusations were part of an investigation into former League treasurer Francesco Belsito for allegedly channelling public funds to the family of ex-leader Umberto Bossi, who stepped down at the beginning of April 2012.

Belsito is accused of buying the jewels along with former Senate deputy speaker Rosy Mauro, expelled from the party in April, and Stiffoni.

Probes were also launched into Northern League activities by investigators in Milan, Naples, Reggio Calabria, Reggio Emilia, and Genoa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Monti Has Taken Everyone for a Ride’, Berlusconi Says

(AGI) Rome — On Monday, Silvio Berlusconi described outgoing PM Mario Monti as “a bluff,” adding “he has taken everyone for a ride”..

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pope’s Personal Secretary Makes Cover of Vanity Fair

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein ‘from dreams to intrigues’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — The pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, is to appear on the cover of the Italian version of Vanity Fair Wednesday.

Gaenswein, 56, a photogenic and athletic figure often called Gorgeous Georg, is the first personal secretary and head of the Papal Household to become an archbishop.

The Vanity Fair story tracks Gaenswein’s life “from youthful dreams to palace intrigues” referring to the recent Vatileaks scandal that saw the pope’s butler jailed for releasing confidential documents.

Gaenswein, who has been compared to George Clooney and Hugh Grant for his looks, recently said his job was to be the cleanest “window” possible to allow Pope Benedict to appear through.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mayor of Corleone Says His Town No Longer Home for Mafia

Declares freedom from Mob on 20th anniversary of Riina arrest

(ANSA) — Corleone, January 14 — The Sicilian town of Corleone no longer belongs to the Mafia men and women of its past, but instead to the heroes of law and order, the mayor announced Monday.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the arrest of Corleone chieftain and Cosa Nostra head Toto’ ‘the Beast’ Riina, Leoluchina Savona said authorities sought forgiveness all of the victims of the mafia.

“I apologize on behalf of all of Corleone, I ask forgiveness for the blood that was paid,” she said during a ceremony that also saw a street named for a Mafia victim.

“The blood, however, has not been shed in vain… (but) as a reminder that there is one way, only one field to choose from”.

She named a long list of Mafia victims — including anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino killed in separate bomb blasts in 1992 — who he said did not die in vain.

The mayor also urged an end to mob violence.

“To the Mafia…I ask you to leave this land, and to abandon the struggle,” said Savona.

“I ask them to admit defeat, to surrender in awareness that this earth, at last, one day it will liberated”. Riina is currently serving multiple life-sentences after leading the Corleonesi faction to the top of the Sicilian mafia, waging a ruthless campaign of violence against rival mobsters and the Italian State in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Corleone was made famous the world over by Mafia films such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series, starring Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

A farming community about 60 km from Palermo, it was the birthplace of a string of top Mafiosi including Riina and his successor as ‘capo dei capi’, Bernardo ‘The Bulldozer’ Provenzano, arrested in 2006 after 43 years on the run.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Collapsed HMV Under Fire as it Refuses to Accept Vouchers it Was Selling Until Yesterday

The writing had been on the wall since the run-up to Christmas, when dire sales figures forced the firm to admit it might breach the terms of its bank loans.

HMV’s banks — state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds — said they were unwilling to go on lending it money.

RBS said in a statement: ‘The banking group led by RBS and Lloyds Banking Group have provided significant support to HMV over the past two years, as it has sought to reshape and restructure its business in the face of extremely difficult trading conditions.

‘Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of management, lenders and suppliers, it has not proven possible to avoid a formal insolvency process.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Former BNP Member Sets Up New Rival Far Right Political Party

A mental health nurse has set up a new far right political party.

Dr Andrew Emerson has joined other former BNP members to create Patria, which means homeland in Latin, which calls for Britain to withdraw from the EU, to repeal the Human Rights Act, to end all immigration and to repatriate non-British residents.

The group — which includes Ian Johnson from the New Forest who stood as a BNP candidate for Havant in the 2005 — will be fielding candidates in local and general elections.

They left the far right BNP after becoming disillusioned with the way it was run.

Dr Emerson said: ‘Racism is a made up word. It’s code for anti-white, anti-English.

‘The people who accuse us of being racist can’t explain what they mean by the word. What they mean is they’re against the English people standing up for themselves and their own rights in their own country. No other country in the world would allow the kind of immigration that we have seen over the last 10 to 15 years.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Imran Ahmed: Care Home Owner Sentenced for £100,000 Theft

The former owner of a care home in Nottinghamshire has been jailed for three years for stealing more than £100,000 from an 80-year-old resident.

Imran Ahmed, 31, stole from Audrey Green at the Lilac House Care Home, Beeston over a seven-year period to feed his secret gambling addiction.

Nottingham Crown Court heard Ms Green’s friend noticed irregularities in her bank account and alerted the council.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Innocent Grandmother Arrested After Grandson Tricks Her Into Giving Him a Lift to Pick Up Cash He Stole in Robbery

A grandmother was arrested after her grandson tricked her into giving him a lift to pick up money he stole in a robbery.

Declan Lloyd, 21, asked his 68-year old grandmother to drive him to a suburban cul-de-sac saying he needed to pick up his car.

But as she innocently dropped him off, a team of officers waiting nearby pounced on the pair as Lloyd picked up the money he took in a bank raid from a stolen Peugeot 207.

The shocked grandmother was arrested and quizzed on suspicion of robbery alongside her grandson.

She was later freed without charge when police established she knew nothing about the raid.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Jury Selection Begins for Oxford Sex Ring Trial

Oxford Jurors were being selected today (Mon) to try nine Muslim men accused of running a child prostitution and sex trafficking ring in Oxford. The suspects face a total of 51 (CORR) charges relating to the rape and sexual assault of six vulnerable girls aged between 11 and 16. It is claimed the victims were befriended, groomed, sexually abused and required to perform sexual services for others for money.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Liverpool Double Rapist Mindaugas Budkus Jailed

A man convicted of raping two women within three weeks in Liverpool has been sentenced to life in prison.

Mindaugas Budkus, 23, of Kirkdale, was convicted of the rapes, including one at knifepoint, after a two-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

He was arrested after CCTV footage showed him following the second victim, aged 21, to her student halls, police said.

Budkus was told he must serve a minimum prison sentence of nine years.

He was convicted of six offences of rape, one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, one of robbery and one of possessing an offensive weapon.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Lesbian Murdered Her Lover With Ornamental Swan After Row Over Finances and Hid Body at Bottom of Garden Under Old Settee

A woman was today sentenced to life in prison after murdering her lesbian lover by hitting her on the head with an ornamental concrete swan.

Tracey Ashfield killed her lover Wendy Thorpe as the couple argued about money at their home.

She then dragged her body to the bottom of the garden and covered it with an old sofa cover in an attempt to hide it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Jailed for North Woolwich Killing

A killer who was caught on CCTV dragging his victim down seven flights of stairs and out into the street was jailed for three years.

Nadeem Yasin, 43, attacked 43 year-old Zahir Bouchia during a drunken row at a flat in North Woolwich, east London, on May 21 last year.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter after the prosecution accepted he did not intend to cause serious bodily harm.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Ministers Agree to Amend Laws After Campaign Led by Rowan Atkinson

Ministers agreed to scrap a law outlawing ‘insulting words or behaviour’ last night after a campaign led by comedian Rowan Atkinson.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced a dramatic U-turn yesterday saying the government would ditch the contentious words from the Public Order Act amid fears that they are strangling free speech.

The Blackadder and Mr Bean star led a coalition of campaign groups complaining that the legislation has been abused by over-zealous police and prosecutors to arrest Christian preachers, critics of Scientology, gay rights campaigners and even students making jokes.

The government caved in yesterday after suffering a humiliating defeat in the House of Lords before Christmas.

Mrs May told the Commons that the word ‘insulting’ would be removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act, as part of the Crime and Courts Bill.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Outrage as Hospital Bans Patients Weighing More Than 15 Stone From Emergency Ward Due to Health and Safety

A hospital has sparked outrage after banning overweight patients from using beds on an emergency ward.

Those weighing over 15 stone are not permitted to use the beds at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, north east Scotland, after fire experts insisted the evacuation system was a danger for overweight patients.

Campaigners have slammed the restriction as ‘completely unacceptable’ and denying patients their rights — but the hospital has insisted it must remain.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Troitino: Mass Murderers Have Human Rights Too

A Spanish terrorist who killed eleven police officers in a 1986 bombing should not be returned to prison as it would breach his human rights, a court heard. Antonio Troitino, 55, is a convicted murderer and a key member of Basque separatist group ETA which has been responsible for scores of terrorist attacks across Spain. He served 24 years behind bars for the Madrid car bomb atrocity in which 11 died and 78 were badly injured. The Spanish government has now asked for Troitino to be extradited from the UK to serve a further five-and-a-half years behind bars. But the killer told Westminster Magistrates’ Court the move would breach his right not to be punished for an offence retrospectively.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Clinton Publicly Linked Benghazi to Video Before Woods and Doherty Were Killed

On the night of Sept. 11, 2012 — before former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by a terrorist mortar strike — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a public statement linking the attack against the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, with an anti-Muslim video, which she referred to as “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

Clinton’s statement, still posted on State’s website, is dated Sept. 11, 2012, and headlined: “Statement on the Attack in Benghazi.”

The statement first notes that a State Department officer had been killed in Benghazi — an apparent reference to Information Management Officer Sean Smith, whose body had been recovered at the U.S. mission in Benghazi by U.S. security officers by about 5:30 p.m. Washington, D.C., time on Sept. 11 — or 11:30 p.m. Benghazi time.

The statement then talks about Clinton’s communications that night with Libya’s president and refers to what Clinton calls “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslims Demolish Church Building in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Hundreds of Muslims came out of mosques today with hammers and destroyed a social services building belonging to the Coptic Church while chanting Islamic slogans. Security forces arrived after the building was completely razed.

The 100 square meters social services building in the village of Fanous, Tamia district in Fayoum province, 130 KM south west of Cairo, had all the necessary government permits; it had a reception hall on the first floor and a kindergarten on the second.

But the Muslims insisted that it would become a church.

A meeting had taken place beforehand between the village mayor and elders from Muslim and Coptic sides and it was agreed that only the first floor was to remain and the second be demolished.

Mosques in surrounding villages called on their microphones this afternoon on Muslims to go and help their Muslim brethrens in the village of Fanous, because Christians were “building a church.” According to rights activist Nader Shukry of Maspero Coptic Youth Organizations, nearly 5000 Muslims took part in demolishing the church property with their hammers, while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” He said no one was arrested, not even the imams who called on Muslims to demolish the building; their calls fall under the crime of “enticement to violence.”

The district of Tamia and neighboring Senousen is home to a large congregation of Islamists. Shoukry said that the Coptic Church had previously warned the security authorities of the danger of the Islamists provoking sedition in Tamia and neighboring areas.

A witness from Fanous village said they were working on the building site, which had started two months ago, removing the wood which was intended for the second floor when a Muslim man started insulting the Copts, then they were assaulted by the village women. The mob of Muslim men followed with their attack saying that the whole building has to be demolished. He said that the Muslim elders pretended to be peacemakers, but to no avail. “The Muslims with their hammers and spare pipes were demolishing also the walls of the ground floor, leaving nothing standing,” said the witness. The village mayor and Muslim elders made excuses for not honoring their agreement of leaving the ground floor intact by saying the “youth take unreasonable actions.”

Security authorities arrived after the social services building was demolished.

Some village Copts together with priests from St. George’s Church went to the police station to have a report with the incident issued. No Muslim was arrested.

“Although we recognized the village youth who participated in the demolition work we could not name any of them,” said a Christian resident, “as we are a minority in the village and we do not want to have problems because we fear for the safety of our children. We go away to work in Cairo leaving our families behind in the village. I believe that as Copts, we are destined to be always persecuted.”

According to Shukry, the Copts are staying indoors, afraid to get into any confrontation which might lead to other attacks on their homes and businesses. “This incident will end like all other similar incidents, no one will be arrested and the building will never be rebuilt.” He believes that the Copts should stand firm and insist on rebuilding this demolished services building, “otherwise it will be a green light to repeat this incident in the neighboring villages.”

In 2007 in the village of Roda in Tamia Muslims demolished the fence of the Protestant church, security initiated a “reconciliation” meeting. The governorate promised to rebuild the fence at its own expenses, and the perpetrators were released. The fence has still not been built.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]

Tunisia Celebrates Anniversary of Revolution Amid Tensions

Rallies mark differences between secular and Islamist society

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — Tunisia on Monday marked the second anniversary of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s flight into exile in the first of the Arab Spring uprisings amid persisting insecurity and social tensions.

In a muted ceremony, accompanied by Premier Hamid Jebali and Constituent Assembly President Mustapha Ben Jaafar, President Moncef Marzouki kicked off the celebrations by hoisting the national flag over Kasbah Square in Tunis, near the headquarters of the ruling coalition led by the Islamist Ennahda party.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who was expected to attend, was a no-show.

Ennahda supporters rallied in front of the communal theater, where the anti-Ben Ali marches used to start, and traded insults with supporters of secular party Nidaa Tounes when their paths crossed. Other peaceful rallies were held by secular as well as fundamentalist parties, as a massive police presence kept the proceedings from degenerating beyond slogan-calling. Presidential guardsmen as a preventive measure detained a group of Salafists, whose radically fundamentalist creed militates for same-sex schools and a return to polygamy, further widening the ever-deepening rift between the Islamist government and its supporters and the secular opposition. A series of attacks in the past few weeks on Sufi mausoleums, a faith the Salafists view as the true enemies of Islam, has done nothing to ease social tensions in the new Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Haaretz Paper Calls on Arab Voter to Turn Out

‘For peace, for equality, for democracy’ and against Netanyahu

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 15 — One week ahead of national elections which will likely see a triumph for the nationalist right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman ticket, liberal Haaretz newspaper on Tuesday issued an unusual appeal. In an op-ed written in both Hebrew and Arabic, Haaretz called on Israel’s one million disillusioned Arab voters to resist the temptation of boycotting the elections and to turn out en masse to help stop the right wing from gaining even more power. The Netanyahu government has stirred resentment by passing a series of discriminatory measures, but this is not the time to let bitterness cloud civic judgment, Haaretz said in its impassioned plea. “Arab citizens, go and vote: for peace, for equality, for democracy”, Haaretz wrote. In what is the latest provocation against Israel’s marginalized Arab citizens, which make up 20% of the population, extreme right-wing Israelis on Tuesday marched on Musmus, an Arab-majority village between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Police successfully contained the march, but the damage was done as the message of hostility and intimidation reached its target.

The outgoing 120-member Knesset, or parliament, has 10 Arab MPs on majority Arab tickets, and another five Arab MPs on Druze and Zionist lists.

Arab voter affluence has declined over the past 20 years, and while everyone agrees Arabs are under-represented, no one agrees on how to remedy the situation. Israeli Arabs look back nostalgically on Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor administration of 1992-1995 as a positive turning point in Arab-Israeli relations and in the peace process with Palestinians, when 70% of Arabs turned out to vote.

That climate changed, and by 2009 just 53% of Arab voters turned out. Given the strong Islamic winds now blowing from former Arab Spring countries, and with the semi-legal Islamic Movement in Israel calling for a boycott, Arab citizens’ participation in next week’s elections might be even lower, analysts said.

“Whoever doesn’t turn out is de facto handing a vote to the Israeli right wing,” said Arab MP Jamal Zahalke, from the secular left-wing Balad party.

Arabs also face logistical difficulties in reaching the urns, said Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur, citing Bedouins living in remote locations in the Neghev Desert.

Along with traditional pro-Arab parties such as the seasoned Hadash (communists), Balad (radicals) and Raam-Taal (which has a pragmatic Islamic wing), this year’s campaign also includes grassroots workers’ party Daam, led by Arab trade unionist Asma Aghbarya. Fielding both Arab and Jewish candidates, Daam is betting on “the necessary solidarity between Arab and Jewish workers.” While it has been welcomed with a degree of openness by local media, it is unlikely to win any Knesset seats, at least this time around, analysts said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

For the First Time, Kuwaiti Women Will be Able to Become Judges

The Minister for Justice has in fact accepted applications from young female graduates for the post of prosecutors. 16 of the 32 people who applied for the position are women.

Manama (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Women can now become judges in Kuwait, one of the most conservative countries in the Arabian Peninsula. For the Minister for Justice has in fact accepted, applications from young female graduates for the post of prosecutors. And from what has been learned, 16 of the 32 people who applied for the position are women.

The role of the public prosecutor permits them to become a judge, and to date only men could fill such a position. Up until now, following studies in law, the most women could aspire to was a position in a law firm.

The event is considered a significant step forward in the realization of equal rights between men and women. Indeed, although the country’s constitution states that they have full social and political rights, it has been an uphill climb in concretely affirming this principle. Thus, only in 2009 were women able to enter Parliament, winning four of the 50 seats up for grabs in the election. The vote last December reduced the number of female MPs to three, but two of them entered government.

Dhikra Al Rashidi (pictured) is Minister for Social Affairs and Labour, and Rola Dashti is the Minister for Business Development and Parliament.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Syria’s Assad Living on Warship Protected by Russian Navy

(AGI) Riad, Jan 14 — Bashar Assad has moved his family from Damascus to a warship off the Syrian coast, protected by Russian naval forces. A report in the Saudi Al-Watan newspaper says the Syrian president travels from the ship to Damascus by helicopter when his presence is required at the presidential palace.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Likely to Lift Headscarf Ban for Uni Profs

Still in effect for civil servants

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 15 — Turkey’s Council of Higher Education has asked the government to pass a bill authorizing female university professors to wear Islamic headscarves to work, Zaman newspaper reported Tuesday.

The measure will likely pass the country’s national assembly, where Islamic nationalist Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) holds an absolute majority. The Erdogan administration in 2010 lifted the ban on headscarves for university students, and for elementary and middle school students during religion classes. The Islamic headscarf is still banned for civil servants. Such measures are seen by some as chipping away at Turkey’s identity as a secular state, a principle enshrined in the Turkish Constitution of 1924 by founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Gov’t Introduces Anti-Violence Bracelet for Women

Sex crimes up by 400% in past nine years, one woman killed a day

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 15 — The Turkish family ministry is introducing an anti-violence bracelet to protect women, officials announced Tuesday.

The bracelet, which has been tested successfully in Adana and Bursa provinces, contains a button to alert police in case of aggression. Violence against women is endemic in Turkey, where one woman a day is killed and 7,000 at-risk women have been placed under court-mandated protection, according to Hurriyet newspaper. Sex crimes have risen by 400% in the past nine years, with 33,000 scuh crimes reported in 2011, up from 8,000 in 2002, according to prosecutor Veli San.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Islam ‘Helped to Shape’ CIA Nominee John Brennan’s World View

Brennan’s Feb. 13, 2010 address to a meeting at the Islamic Center at New York University, facilitated by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), provided an insight into his views on Islam, a faith which he said during the speech had “helped to shape my own world view.”

Travels around the world over more than three decades had taught him about “the goodness and beauty of Islam,” said Brennan, whose 25-year career at the CIA until 2005 included a stint as station chief in Riyadh.

“Like the president during his childhood years in Jakarta, I came to see Islam not how it is often misrepresented, but for what it is — how it is practiced every day, by well over a billion Muslims worldwide, a faith of peace and tolerance and great diversity.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

More Suicides Than Combat Losses Among US Soldiers in 2012

(AGI) Washington, Jan 14 — The number of suicides among US armed forces reached 349 in 2012, far surpassing the 295 losses suffered in combat in Afghanistan. According to the Huffington Post, the phenomenon is so worrying that the outgoing Defense secretary Leon Panetta called it an “epidemic.”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Ordinary Indonesians Against Judges and Politicians Who “Justify” Sexual Violence

An official from Sharia-ruled Aceh province blames “sexy women” for rape. A judge claims that both rapist and victim “enjoy” the act, hence the death penalty is inappropriate. Such views, which follow the death of an 11-year-old girl who was gang-raped, have outraged women.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Statements by politicians, judges and high ranking government officials on the responsibility of women in their own rape are causing outrage among ordinary Indonesians. A judge, for example, joked about sexual violence before a parliamentary committee. In Indonesia’s only Sharia-ruled province, an official said that women wearing “sexy outfits” are “asking for it”, an especially ill-timed statement made not long after an 11-year-old girl died in Jakarta after being gang-raped, in a case not unlike that of the 23-year-old Indian woman whose story moved the world.

In a recent statement, Ramli Mansur, head of the North Aceh Regency, said that “sexy women” are “easily subject to rape” because their clothing is “un-Islamic”. In his view, such women “are asking for rape, including gang-rape” because of their “good looks”.

In an attempt to defuse the controversy, the Indonesian government said the official’s words were misconstrued, that in fact, he only wanted to warn women to dress more in line with Islamic precepts, which are the law in Aceh.

Judge Daming Sunusi, speaking before a parliamentary committee charged with appointing new Supreme Court justices, said that since “rapists and their victims enjoy the sex”, the death penalty “should not be imposed on the former.”

Even more disturbing than the judge’s remarks was the reaction of the committee members. Instead of reprimanding the former for his lack of sensitivity and the danger his words carry, they simply laughed at his “joke”.

This was especially thoughtless coing a few days after the death of an 11-year-old girl who was gang-raped by a group of thugs in broad daylight in Jakarta.

Ordinary Indonesians and human rights groups reacted quickly in online forums, blogs and other Internet sites.

“This is too much. The judge should apologise to the Indonesian people,” a Jakartan wrote.

Others have gone further, expressing doubts about his “moral integrity” and his ability to perform his functions fairly and impartially.

The indifference and shallowness with which the issue is addressed has also been a cause of indignation.

In the end, it is victims who have to face a bleak future, suffering from the traumatic consequences of their mental and physical experiences.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Far East

China Tightens ‘Great Firewall’ Internet Control With New Technology

Companies and individuals affected by new system thought to ‘learn, discover and block’ encrypted communications

China appears to be tightening its control of internet services that are able to burrow secretly through what is known as the “Great Firewall”, which prevents citizens there from reading some overseas content.

Both companies and individuals are being hit by the new technology deployed by the Chinese government to control what people read inside the country.

A number of companies providing “virtual private network” (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to “learn, discover and block” the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Chrysler Close to Signing Production Deal for Jeeps in China

Fiat-owned carmaker expects to work through joint venture

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Chrysler Group is close to signing a production agreement for Chinese factories to manufacture Jeep sports utility vehicles, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Within this quarter Chrysler, which is majority owned by Fiat, is expected to sign a preliminary agreement to produce Jeeps for the domestic market in China.

“We are close,” chief executive Sergio Marchionne told Bloomberg.

Fiat would work through a joint venture, Guangzhou Automobile Group.

Jeep is Chrysler’s top-selling brand worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

France Seeks Gulf Arab Help for Mali Campaign

(AGI) Abu Dhabi — France expects Gulf Arab states will help in the campaign against Islamist rebels in Mali.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Mali Intervention Supported by 63 Pct of French People

(AGI) Paris, Jan 15 — An IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion) poll found that 63 percent of the French people support the military intervention in Mali and only 37% are against it.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Mali: UAE Giving Material, Financial Aid, Hollande Says

We will send more troops, French pres says from Abu Dhabi base

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 15 — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are fully behind the French military intervention in Mali, President Francois Hollande said Tuesday in a speech at a French military base in Abu Dhabi, which he is visiting along with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The UAE have pledged “their full support, including humanitarian, material and financial aid,” Hollande said in the speech broadcast on French TV. The cooperation might include “possible military aid, to be discussed at a later date,” Hollande added.

“Last night’s raids have reached their target,” Hollande said, adding that “we will be adding more troops” to the 750 French soldiers currently in Mali. That number is expected to reach 2,500, French defense officials said. France is “pretty confident” other Gulf countries will support its intervention with materials and financing, the minister said, adding that French military presence in Mali will not spark more al-Qaeda recruitment in the region. “It’s the opposite,” Fabius said. “We, not just the French but all nations, must combat terrorism.” The UN, the African Union, and the EU are setting up a donors’ conference for Mali to be held in Addis Abeba, in Ethiopia, at the end of the month, Fabius said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Italy: Police Bust Alleged Somali Migrant Trafficking Ring

Suspects include Kenya Italian embassy and WFP employees

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Police on Tuesday arrested 55 Somali nationals in connection with the alleged trafficking of migrants from the Horn of Africa to northern Europe via Italy. The suspects include Hussein Mohamed Abdurahman, known as ‘Banje’, a cultural mediator at the Italian embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and Mohamed Sheik Ali Bashir, who works for the Rome-based United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP). They face various charges including assisting unlawful immigration, forgery of documents, illegal financial activities and money laundering. A further 23 people have been reported in connection with the alleged trafficking activities and businesses, bank accounts, money transfer agencies and other assets thought to be linked to the criminal organisation are to be sequestered. The alleged trafficking ring had operational units in Kenya, Libya and Italy, where the illegal immigrants were supplied with false documents at logistical bases in Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence, Prato, Bergamo, Cuneo and Naples before being sent on to Netherlands, France, Denmark, Britain, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The organisation is believed to have had a turnover of 25 million euros a year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Immigration Adviser Admits Organising Sham Marriages

An immigration adviser has admitted organising sham marriages.

Zafer Altinbas, 38, from north London, pleaded guilty to breaching immigration law and receiving money from the proceeds of crime.

He changed his plea half-way through the opening of a trial at the Old Bailey.

Tevfick Souleiman from Hertfordshire and Londoners Cenk Guclu and Furrah Kosimov deny conspiracy to breach immigration law.

The jury will return on Tuesday when prosecutor Nicholas Mather will continue setting out the case against the other accused.

Altinbas, of Islington, was released on bail and is expected to be sentenced at the end of the trial.

The prosecution alleges the scam was being run from the north London offices of a solicitors firm to allow non-EU grooms to remain in the UK after marrying brides from EU countries.

Solicitor Tevfick Souleiman, 39, and immigration advisers Cenk Guclu, 41, and Furrah Kosimov, 29, both deny conspiracy to breach immigration law between 2004 and last year.

Souleiman, from Hatfield, and Guclu, from Enfield, north London, also deny receiving proceeds of crime.

Kosimov, from Wembley, north-west London, who is being tried in his absence, denies money laundering.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Legal Boss Who Helped Arrange Sham Marriages Faces Jail

Islington, Enfield, North London; Wembley, Northwest London; Hatfield, Herts A legal boss who helped arrange thousands of sham marriages to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the UK is facing jail today (Mon). Zafer Altinbas, 38, was involved in the eight-year plot while working as practice manager at north London-based Souleiman GA. The firm paid for brides and husbands to be flown into the country from Eastern Europe and invented ‘touching love stories’ to make the bogus relationships appear genuine.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Churches ‘Could be Sued for Refusing to Agree to Gay Marriages’

Legal advice reportedly sent to David Cameron warns that church could be sued under human rights legislation if they refuse to allow the services to proceed.

Exemption granted to the Church of England by the Coalition Bill to prevent it having to conduct gay marriages is “eminently challenge-able” in the European Court of Human Rights.

It also warns that the Government’s insistence that protections put in place for other religious groups who don’t want to marry homosexuals could be undermined by evolving European human rights law.

The warnings, written by Aidan O’Neill, a leading human rights lawyer at centre-left Matrix Chambers, argues that churches that refuse to marry homosexuals would be banned from using council facilities such as village halls.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

‘Thank You Jesus’: Christian British Airways Employee Tells of Joy as After European Court Finds She Did Suffer Discrimination Over Silver Cross

A British Airways employee who claimed she suffered religious discrimination at work because she was told to stop wearing a cross has won a landmark legal battle at the European Court of Human Rights.

Nadia Eweida, 60, suffered discrimination over her Christian beliefs, after the airline said the religious item was in breach of company uniform codes, judges have ruled.

Today they found that there had been a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights of the BA worker, and handed her 2,000 Euros in compensation and another 30,000 in costs.

Her case was rejected in Britain but today European judges found in her favour by five votes to two.

Miss Eweida said she was ‘jumping for joy’ at the decision but that she was disappointed for the other three applicants.

Speaking outside her lawyer’s chambers in central London, she said: ‘I’m very happy and very happy and very pleased that Christian rights have been vindicated in the UK and Europe.

‘I’m very pleased that after all this time the European court has specifically recognised, in paragraph 114 in the judgment, that I have suffered anxiety, frustration and distress.

‘I was very selfish initially when I heard the verdict because I was jumping for joy and saying “thank you Jesus”.

‘It’s a vindication that Christians have a right to express their faith on par with other colleagues at work visibly and not be ashamed of their faith,’ she said.

David Cameron welcomed the news, tweeting: ‘Delighted that principle of wearing religious symbols at work has been upheld — ppl shouldn’t suffer discrimination due to religious beliefs.’

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman added: ‘The Government’s view is that the law as it stands strikes the right balance between the rights of employees and employers.’

This is despite the case being brought against the government and them having to pick up the costs and compensation Miss Eweida was awarded today.

English judges must now take this decision into consideration in future cases.

But the ECHR ruled against three more Christians who launched a similar action.

Shirley Chaplin, 57, claimed she was forced out of her job for wearing a cross in breach of a company uniform code.

Hospital bosses said it was a health and safety issue, and judge agreed today.

Marriage counsellor Gary McFarlane, 51, who was sacked for saying he might object to offering sex therapy to homosexuals, and registrar Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined when she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, also both lost.

Responding to the ruling about Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane, Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall, said: ‘Today’s judgment rightly confirms that it’s completely unacceptable in 2013 for public servants to pick and choose who they want to serve on the basis of sexual orientation.

‘Gay people contribute over £40billion to the cost of public services in this country. They’re entitled to nothing less than equal treatment from those services, even from public servants who don’t happen to like gay people.’

Miss Eweida, from Twickenham, south-west London, argued that she she should have had the same rights as a Sikh man in a turban or a Muslim woman with a headscarf.

She was sent home in September 2006 for displaying a small silver cross on a chain around her neck which she wore as a personal expression of her faith.

She took British Airways to a tribunal but a panel rejected her claims and ruled she was not a victim of religious discrimination.

The decision was upheld by The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court before Miss Eweida took her fight to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

She returned to work in customer services at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 in February 2007, after BA changed its uniform policy on visible items of jewellery.

At the ECHR, Miss Eweida argued BA’s action contravened articles nine and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibit religious discrimination and allow ‘freedom of thought, conscience and religion’.

‘I’m disappointed on behalf of the other three applicants but I fully support them in their asking for a referral for their cases to be heard in the Grand Chamber, and I wish them every success in the future to win,’ she said today.

Gary McFarlane and Shirley Chaplain have confirmed they will appeal again, as they say they maintain Christians are not treated equally in Britain.

Mrs Chaplin had been told by bosses at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital to remove the cross in 2009, after a 30-year career on the wards.

She said today: ‘There’s never been a health and safety issue — there’s no evidence that it caused a health and safety problem.

‘Other faiths are allowed to manifest their faiths visibly I feel I should have the same.

‘It’s true there might not be any requirement to the wear the cross in the view of some people but to me it’s very much a part of my Christian identity.

‘And I feel I should have the right to manifest that.’

The ECHR judges rejected Mrs Chaplin’s case on the grounds that the removal of her necklace was deemed necessary to protect the health and safety of nurses and patients.

Miss Ladele, a registrar at Islington Council in north London and Mr McFarlane, a 51-year-old solicitor and father of two from Hanham, in Bristol, also saw their claims rejected.

Judges found Islington Council’s action was ‘legitimate’ given it was also obliged to consider the rights of same-sex couples while they said Mr McFarlane took on the role at counselling service Relate in the knowledge that clients could not be divided up in accordance with their sexual orientation.

They decided Relate’s decision to dismiss the former church elder was designed to enable the organisation to provide a service without discrimination.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: ‘We are delighted that the cross has been recognised and indeed that Nadia has won her case.

‘We are saddened that Shirley Chaplin lost her case.

‘The court said that although they recognised that the cross was a Christian symbol, the hospital, the Government was entitled to say, that on the grounds of health and safety she should have to take off her cross.

‘It’s very sad that in a sense what the court did say was that the cross is a Christian symbol but now we’re going to wash our hands of what happens next because the Government, the employer, is allowed to do what it wants.

‘What I’m also pleased about is that in the European court they recognised that saying that marriage is between a man and a woman, that believing that sex should be within marriage is actually part of the Christian faith, that flows from believing in the Bible.

‘They went on to say that if an employer has an equalities policy and says there should be no discrimination in any way on the grounds of sexual orientation no matter what your Christian belief is that the sexual orientation rights win.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: CofE ‘Will be Sued Over Gay Marriage’: Human Rights Law ‘Undermines’ Cameron Plans

David Cameron’s plans for gay marriage will leave churches open to being sued under human rights legislation unless they agree to same-sex unions.

Legal advice sent to the Prime Minister says that churches that refuse to marry homosexuals would be banned from using council facilities such as village halls.

The paper, written by Aidan O’Neill — a leading human rights lawyer at centre-left Matrix Chambers — also says that Christian teachers who refuse to take classes discussing gay marriage could be legitimately fired.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General

Crazy New Exploit Can Brick Samsung Phones or Steal All Their Data

Got a Samsung Galaxy SIII? Maybe a Galaxy Note? Well listen up because there’s a new boogeyman on the loose. According to a thread at XDA Developers, there’s an exploit out there that can let Android malware apps get at all your physical memory, for the purposes of stealing your data or deleting it or whathaveyou.

The exploit was found by a user called Alephzain who was able to use it to root his Samsung Galaxy S III, but the flaw also extends to a number of Samsung phones, all of which have certain Exynos processors, a key element to using the exploit. It’s working in practice too, another user called Chainfire has already build an apk that can use the “ExynosAbuse” to root a number of devices including:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Powell Says GOP Holds ‘Dark Vein of Intolerance’

Whenever the liberal media want to paint the Republican Party as a party of extremists and those on the far right, they trot out Colin Powell. This man is no more Republican than Bill Clinton, and yet he feels compelled to get in front of a camera and speak about the ills of “his” party.

The Examiner.com reports on comments made by former Secretary of State Colin Powell on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” In the interview, Powell states that the Republican Party has a “dark vein of intolerance.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20130114

Financial Crisis
» Italian Court Declares Historic Ceramics Maker Bankrupt
» Italy: Bersani Seeks to Reassure Markets in WaPo Interview
» The End of America’s Grand Economic Bargain
 
USA
» Caroline Glick: Chuck Hagel — It’s the Anti-Americanism, Stupid
» Chicago Police Chief Says There Will be Tragedies When His Officers Shoot Legal Concealed Carriers
» Detroit Auto Show Sees Volkswagen in Good Mood
» For All But Shell, Alaska Was Just Too Risky
» Frank Gaffney: A World Without America
» Gun Control Shootout at the DC Corral
» NASA’s Donated Spy Telescopes May Aid Dark Energy Search
» NY Times Environmental Desk Goes the Way of Global Warming
 
Europe and the EU
» Domestic Violence Campaign Targets Scottish Muslims
» German Chancellor Declares Christians ‘Most Persecuted’
» Gunmen Shoot at Greek Prime Minister’s Office
» Italy: Naples: Controversy Over Scampia’s Refusal for Gomorrah Film
» Italy: Priest to Stand Trial for ‘Misappropriation of Funds’
» Italy: Founder of Anti-Racket Association Attempts Suicide
» Italy: Indictments Requested for 11 in State-Mafia Talks Case
» Italy: Berlusconi Prefers to be Economy Minister Than Premier
» Italy: Police, Protesters Clash at Monti’s Railroad Unveiling
» Italy: Centre-Left Will Try to Work With Monti, Bersani Tells WaPo
» Kurdish Militants Warn France After Paris Killings
» Property Tax Review ‘Not Dangerous’ Says Rehn
» Prosecutors Say ‘Save ILVA’ Decree Violates EU Charter
» Sweden: Eight-Year Wait for a Home in Stockholm
» Swedes Most Worried About Organized Crime
» Ugly Face of UKIP: Sunday Mirror Exposes Racist and Homophobic Views of Party Members
» UK: Acid Found on Train Sparks Manhunt
» UK: Alarming Rise in Child Sexual Exploitation
» UK: Boy: 13, Who Raped Woman in Front of His Friends is Jailed for Just Three Years… Because He Said ‘Sorry’
» UK: Chichester Hospital Worker Charged With Raping Patient
» UK: Heroin Use Shouldn’t be a Crime PM Urged and Dealers Should be Licensed to Sell ‘Legal Highs’, Say MPs and Peers
» UK: Paranoid Schizophrenic ‘Broke Into Rural Home and Stabbed Man 80 Times in Killing of Extraordinary Ferocity’
» UK: Taxi Driver Who Stole £270 From Blind Pensioner in Oldham Spared Jail
» UK: Youths Brandishing Machetes and Truncheons Target Kenley Home in ‘Violent’ Night Burglary
 
North Africa
» Al-Azhar’s Double Game to Islamize Egypt and Maintain Power
» Egypt: 15 Years in Prison for Mother and Seven Children, Converts to Christianity
» Libya: After Attack on Italian Consul, Security to be Upped
 
Middle East
» Diana West: The Fox Effect, Pt. 3
» Migration Flows to Saudi Arabia Must be Regulated to Avoid Another Rizana Nafeek
 
Russia
» Russia to Produce Soyuz Successor by 2020
 
South Asia
» Indonesia: Aceh Bans Women From Straddling Motorcycles
» Sri Lanka: People in the Streets to Mark the Justice System’s ‘Black Friday’
 
Far East
» China: Beijing Bathes in Thick Smog, Deemed Dangerous by UN
 
Australia — Pacific
» Police Struggle to Keep Lid on More Racial Clashes in Logan, While Logan Mayor Pam Parker Calls for “Zero Tolerance” Approach
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» China Expands Media Reach in Africa
» France Fears Somali Islamists May Display Dead Frenchmen
» Mali Rebels Take Central Town of Diabaly
» Mali’s Islamists Threaten to Strike on French Soil
» Mali: Hundreds Fleeing to Mauritania
» Malian Islamists Take Over Town North of Capital
» Turkey Sets Its Sights on Africa
 
Immigration
» Immigration is British Society’s Biggest Problem, Shows Survey of Public
» Ireland: Doctor Who Worked in Hospitals Here Failed to Reveal Conviction for Drugs Smuggling
» Obama Will Seek Citizenship Path in One Fast Push
» Paul Ryan Backs Marco Rubio’s Immigration Plan
» ‘We Don’t Know How Many People Will Come From Bulgaria and Romania’: UK’s Housing Market to Come Under Pressure From New Wave of EU Immigrants, Eric Pickles Warns
 
Culture Wars
» Ban on Graphic Abortion Signs a Free Speech Threat
» French Government Holds Firm on Gay Marriage
» Message to Teacher: Either Religious Items Go… Or You Do
» The Progressive Global Sharing Economy
 
General
» Child Trafficking on the Rise, UN Says

Financial Crisis

Italian Court Declares Historic Ceramics Maker Bankrupt

Closing of Richard Ginori puts more than 300 out of work

(ANSA) — Florence, January 7 — A court in Florence declared the historic ceramic maker Richard Ginori bankrupt Monday, sources said, ending a lengthy struggle and eliminating more than 300 jobs.

The ruling was filed by court judges Monday morning, which apparently ends efforts to sell the company — founded in 1735 — to a buyer from the United States.

Last fall, the Tuscan ceramics producer sought court assistance as the company began to go through its liquidation process.

The company had stopped manufacturing at the end of July, laying off 337 employees.

The regional government said at the time that it hoped to find another business with plans for reinvestment to revitalize the ceramics producer.

Late last year, the company thought it found a solution and said it had a purchase offer from a consortium led by Lenox Corp., of the US.

The Florence court appointed Andrea Spignoli as administrator of Richard Ginori during the liquidation process.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bersani Seeks to Reassure Markets in WaPo Interview

Tells Washington Post the Left is for opening markets

(ANSA) — Rome, January 14 — The leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Pier Luigi Bersani — who is favored to become Italy’s next premier in elections on February 24 — sought to reassure markets in an interview with The Washington Post released online on Sunday. “The markets have nothing to fear as long as they accept the end of monopolies and dominant positions. I understand that it could seem bizarre to see the Italian Left as opening markets, but this comes from the fact that in Italy, the Right does not have a liberal tradition, but tends to be statist and is more influenced by professional lobbies,” Bersani said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The End of America’s Grand Economic Bargain

The “grand bargain” that has been the basis of the American economic system since 1913 is entering its end-game phase. What will replace the expiring order is unknown, but there are two substantially different substitutes that could emerge over the medium term. One is a return to the free market that existed before the institution of the progressive income tax and the Federal Reserve in 1913. This isn’t likely, given the weakness and inability of so-called conservative “leaders” to communicate ideas effectively. The other is a form of financial repression resulting in the kind of fascistic state seen in Venezuela. This is the more likely scenario, given President Obama’s mesmeric hold over the mainstream media, government employee unions and the burgeoning recipient class.

What is the “grand bargain” that has persisted in America for a hundred years? It is the unstated, but easily recognizable, agreement among the four economic divisions in the country (socio-economic “classes,” if you like) that has directed America’s economy since Woodrow Wilson’s first days in office….

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

USA

Caroline Glick: Chuck Hagel — It’s the Anti-Americanism, Stupid

Chuck Hagel hates Jews. Or should I say, he hates Jews who think that Jews have rights and that their rights should be defended, in Israel by the government and the IDF, in America by Israel’s supporters.

As I mentioned before, it is not at all surprising that Obama appointed Hagel, and I see little chance that the Senate will reject his appointment. Israel and its American friends however can take heart that Israel will not be Hagel’s chief concern.

Hagel — and Obama — have bigger fish to fry than Israel. They are looking to take on the US military. They will slash military budgets, they will slash pensions and medical benefits for veterans in order to save a couple dollars and demoralize the military. They will unilaterally disarm the US to the point where America’s antiquated nuclear arsenal will become a complete joke. And I don’t see the military capable of stopping it. Anyone remember the F-22?

I find the whole Israel angle on Hagel irritating because of this. Yes, Hagel will be bad to Israel. But we can minimize the damage by diversifying our own arsenal and weaning ourselves off of US military handouts that only serve as work subsidies for US military contractors at the expense of Israeli ones.Moreover, for years that military aid has been a corrupting force on Israel’s general staff. I’ve been advocating ending US military aid to Israel for more than a decade, but better late than wait until we find ourselves at war and out of spare parts because Hagel and Obama won’t sign the requisition orders to Boeing and Lockheed.

Unlike Israel, the US military cannot minimize the damage that Hagel and Obama will cause. America’s capabilities will suffer at the hands of the duly reelected Commander in Chief and his duly appointed Defense Secretary. The only chance to dodge that bullet was on Election Day and the American people blew it…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Chicago Police Chief Says There Will be Tragedies When His Officers Shoot Legal Concealed Carriers

“I don’t care if they’re licensed legal firearms, people who are not highly trained… putting guns in their hands is a recipe for disaster,” Chicago’s Police Chief Gary McCarthy told a Windy City radio interviewer at WVON 1690 am. “So I’ll train our officers that there is a concealed carry law, but when somebody turns with a firearm in their hand the officer does not have an obligation to wait to get shot to return fire and we’re going to have tragedies as a result of that. I’m telling you right up front.”

Oddly, police chiefs and sheriffs in the other 49 states where concealed carry has been legal for some time don’t seem to have that problem. Is the Chief just trying to scare people away from getting their carry permits once the new Illinois law is in place?

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Detroit Auto Show Sees Volkswagen in Good Mood

German carmaker Volkswagen has announced record 2012 sales hours before the official opening of the North American Auto Show in Detroit. The group has successfully dealt with an unfavorable business climate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

For All But Shell, Alaska Was Just Too Risky

“Once-in-a-generation” oil and natural gas fields apparently lured the Royal Dutch Shell company into ignoring clear dangers about drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. It could soon be paying the price.

While environmentalists might be breathing a sigh of relief that the Kulluk oil rig didn’t spill a drop of its 150,000 gallons of oil after running aground off the coast of Alaska late last December, the Royal Dutch Shell company is likely still holding its breath.

On January 3, a group of 45 Democratic congressmen from the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition called for a formal investigation of the Kulluk incident in order to determine whether Shell should be allowed to continue drilling for oil in Alaskan waters — into which Shell has invested $5 billion (3.75 billion euros).

“The recent grounding of Shell’s Kulluk oil rig amplifies the risks of drilling in the Arctic,” the group’s announcement read. “This is the latest in a series of alarming blunders, including the near grounding of another of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs, the 47-year-old Noble Discoverer, in Dutch Harbor and the failure of its blowout containment dome, the Arctic Challenger, in lake-like conditions.”

On Thursday, January 10, Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, claimed that Shell’s decision to move the oil platform was solely to avoid an Alaska state tax liability it would have incurred on January 1.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: A World Without America

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly declared that “a world without America is not only desirable, it is achievable.” While that sentiment won’t be embraced in President Obama’s inaugural address next week, all other things being equal, it seems likely to be the practical effect of his second term.

Of course, Iran’s regime seeks a world literally without America. More to the point, Ahmadinejad and the mullahs in Tehran are working tirelessly to secure the means by which to accomplish that goal. Specifically, they have or are developing the ability to engage in devastating electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks, biological warfare and other asymmetric terrorist strikes…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

Gun Control Shootout at the DC Corral

“Leave me alone” finds security in independence. “Let’s fix it” finds security in dependency.

Americans are suckers for a sob story. But a lot of them are also suckers for personal freedom. Whenever a bullseye is put on freedom for the greater good, two narratives battle it out for the soul of the country. “We have to fix this” and “Leave me alone.”

Think of We have to fix this” and “Leave me alone” as the devil and angel on the shoulders of every cartoon character for the last hundred years. “We have to fix this,” wears an earnest expression and her appearance is calculated to suggest nurse, teacher or PTA member, when in reality she’s usually an Ivy League grad with a lot of time spent in government and political advocacy and whose kids are raised by Elena from Guatemala, whose immigration status is that of Undocumented Democrat.

“We have to fix this” has the manner of a customer service rep who knows why you’re getting screwed and whose job is to get you to stop being so angry about it. “We have to fix this” may be a committed leftist, but also knows that most people don’t want to hear it. Like all liberal activists, she’s a community organizer, and the job of a community organizer, like that of every meeting chairperson ever, is to encourage the people who agree with her to speak and shut up those who don’t by either shaming them or tricking them into compromising their position.

This impromptu community organizing goes on everywhere. Many college students graduate already knowing how to manufacture a consensus by controlling the debate.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NASA’s Donated Spy Telescopes May Aid Dark Energy Search

Astronomers are excited by the possibility of using one of two cast-off spy satellite telescopes gifted to NASA to probe for dark energy. They have already come up with a design that would incorporate the spy telescope into the proposed Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a high-priority NASA mission that would hunt for dark energy, exoplanets and supernovae.

Though a final review and economic analysis won’t be released until April, the new design based on the donated scopes would boost WFIRST’s abilities significantly, some researchers say. But the concept could also require more power and a bigger launch vehicle, potentially raising the project’s roughly $1.5 billion price tag.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

NY Times Environmental Desk Goes the Way of Global Warming

The Times lied about global warming—now called “climate change”—on a daily basis.

“What’s in worse shape”“, asked the Heartland Institute’s Director of Communications, Jim Lakely, in a January 11th blog post. “The state of the Earth’s climate? Or the state of the New York Times? Global temperatures are not rising all that quickly, so the Earth is doing fine. Meanwhile, the Old Gray Lady is shutting down its Environmental Desk.”

The Heartland Institute has cause to celebrate because it has led the effort to debunk the global warming hoax, sponsoring international conferences that brought together the world’s leading scientists and others to demonstrate how specious the alleged “science” of global warming was and is. It did so in the face of a United Nations agenda to advance the hoax and a compliant and cooperative media that did nothing to dispute it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Domestic Violence Campaign Targets Scottish Muslims

A new campaign asking Muslim men and women to speak out against domestic violence is being launched in Scotland.

The Change This campaign wants people to report any violence they have seen or experienced.

Muslim women’s charity Amina will use Islamic teachings and an Imam to challenge the misconception that Islam allows violence against women.

The charity said it was aware of many cases where people used their religion in an attempt to justify violence.

As part of the campaign, it will be going out and speaking to men and women about the issue.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

German Chancellor Declares Christians ‘Most Persecuted’

“Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.” To anyone moderately aware of world events, this passing comment by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is an obvious fact. However, it created a stir in her country and beyond by groups with anti-biblical agendas.

Several “human rights” organizations from the German Green Party to Amnesty International, to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religious Belief declared her statement to be either “totally senseless,” or “misguided.” They said her opinion was based on “occasionally rumored numbers.”

The highly respected Christian international aid society, Open Doors, jumped into the fray, countering that 80% of the religiously persecuted individuals worldwide were Christian, totaling some 100 million people in all. Open Doors’ list of 50 most religiously repressive regimes fall primarily in two categories: Muslim or “Marxist-legacy.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gunmen Shoot at Greek Prime Minister’s Office

Two unknown individuals have fired shots at the Greek prime minister’s office in Athens. Police said nobody was hurt in the incident.

Gunmen shot at the headquarters of the ruling New Democracy Party near the center of Athens Monday. There were no casualties.

“At around 3 a.m. (0100 UCT) security guards saw two men come out of a black car and open fire with a Kalashnikov on the building, which was empty at the time in question. A bullet went through the window of the political office of the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, and nine rounds of ammunition were found on the ground,” said a police officer.

A spokesman for the Greek government, Simos Kedikoglou, speculated that the attack was a symbolic one directed against Samaras.

“It is a new and worrying escalation from those who want to spread terror in our society,” he said.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is scheduled to meet Greece’s left-leaning opposition leader, Alexis Tsipras, in Berlin later on Monday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Naples: Controversy Over Scampia’s Refusal for Gomorrah Film

‘We aren’t Baghdad’. Clash Saviano-De Magistris

(ANSAmed) — Naples, January 7 — The president of the municipality of Scampia (Naples) is clashing with television producers while Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris is fighting with writer and journalist Roberto Saviano over the decision of Scampia’s local municipality — supported by the local government — to refuse a permit to film a television series on Saviano’s bestseller book Gomorrah based in part in this crime-torn district of Naples.

After the international success registered by the movie, Sky television is producing a tv series on the book. But production companies Fandango and Catteleya have been denied a permit to film the series in Scampia, where renewed fighting between gangs with the local camorra criminal organization is sowing violence. ‘I denied the authorizations because we must stop the instrumental exploitation of Naples and in particular this neighbourhood’, said the municipality’s president Angelo Pisani. ‘Always emphasizing the negative things, which naturally exist, solves nothing and confirms a negative image which Scampia has to endure. This in spite of positive things which are never discussed. We have been bombarded by media outlets from all over the world. I think it is time to end this and stop the media’s exploitation of commonplaces: Scampia is not Baghdad’.

De Magistris also wrote on his facebook page: ‘We are tired of seeing the image of Scampia, not only nationally, reduced as a territory to be conquered by the fighting camorra as if nothing else existed in Scampia apart from drug trafficking and clan in-fighting’. The mayor also suggested that TV rights could finance projects to promote the territory launched by associations and schools.

Saviano also intervened, indirectly criticizing De Magistris. ‘The revolutionary in power is the most fervent of reactionaries’, said Saviano on the website of Rome daily La Repubblica. ‘When policy making is inadequate it prefers to stop the stories. When nothing changes, due to management faults, it is better for writers and filmmakers to remain silent and still.

And if instead they work and move, it is better to present their work as an artfully reconstructed truth speculating on evil and suffering while power is awaiting to justify its inadequacy’.

Meanwhile the series is not being filmed. Cattleya producer Riccardo Tozzi told ANSA: ‘We are surprised by the no of the municipality’s president, there is not such a precise identification of Scampia which represents 5% of the series at the very most. There is a great variety of environments and situations and the most important thing is that the series is far from giving a positive image of the camorra but we rather give great relevance to positive people in the territory who are the other characters in Saviano’s world, those who are fighting to change things. We are waiting to meet the mayor and hope is not too busy in the electoral campaign and that filming in Scampia will resume after further clarifications’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Priest to Stand Trial for ‘Misappropriation of Funds’

Accused of taking advantage of elderly teacher

(ANSA) Florence, January 4; Prosecutors are calling for a priest to stand trial for allegedly taking 40,000 euros from a retired teacher that is now deceased. Magistrates suspect the woman in question may have been weak of mind and taken advantage of. The priest has always defended his actions, saying he had used the funds in question to look after the elderly teacher as her relatives had neglected her. The teacher had spent her working life teaching at an elementary school in the town of Rignano Sull’Arno, in Tuscany. Upon retiring, she had returned to her home town of Nepi, in the central Italian Lazio region, where she was reunited by chance with her former parish priest, Giovanni Concordia, who was 83 at the time. In the three years leading up to 2012, the woman had withdrawn 80,000 euros in cash and signed cheques for 20,000 euros.

Of the total, 40,000 allegedly ended up with the elderly priest.

The priest had allegedly taken to accompanying her on various occasions when she went back to her bank branch in Tuscany to carry out financial transactions.

The investigation into the finances of the deceased teacher were triggered by her son, who filed a police report after becoming suspicious upon seeing her bank account statements. Prosecutors contend she may have been unsound of mind towards the end of her life and that the priest may have taken advantage of her.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Founder of Anti-Racket Association Attempts Suicide

Dire financial situation thought to be to blame

(ANSA) — Milan, January 4 — The founder of an anti-racket association was receiving hospital treatment on Friday after trying to take his own life.

Frediano Manzi, founder of ‘Sos racket e usura’ (SOS racket and usury), was found by Carabinieri police in his apartment near Milan after slitting his wrists. The gesture was thought to be linked to Manzi’s reported “desperate economic situation” and he said he had had to close two commercial activities just the day before. For the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia crime syndicate he was ‘a dead man walking’, Manzi said. Prosecutors have been able to open several important investigations particularly into organised crime and corruption as a result of reports made by Sos racket e usura. However recently the association’s founder was convicted of staging an arson attack.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Indictments Requested for 11 in State-Mafia Talks Case

Prosecutor cites ex-ministers, ex-police, ex-Mob bosses

(ANSA) — Palermo, January 10 — A prosecutor in Palermo requested on Thursday that charges be brought against 11 defendants in a probe into alleged negotiations between the Mafia and the Italian State in the early 1990s, including notorious Mafia bosses, ex-anti-Mafia police officers and current members of parliament. It has been suggested that State officials entered negotiations with Cosa Nostra in a bid to stop attacks after a long campaign of violence that culminated in two bombings in 1992 which killed anti-Mob prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, his wife, fellow prosecutor Paolo Borsellino, and several bodyguards. In a preliminary Palermo court hearing on Thursday morning, prosecutor Nino Di Matteo asked a judge to bring charges against nine defendants for violence and threats against the State.

Di Matteo cited Mafia bosses Leoluca Bagarella, Toto’ Riina, Giovanni Brusca and Nino Cina’. Riina is currently serving multiple life-sentences after leading the Corleonesi faction to the top of the Sicilian Mafia, waging a ruthless campaign of violence against rival mobsters and the Italian State in the 1980s and early 1990s. In the wake of the 1992 bombings, Riina is said to have made a list of demands for the Italian State, the so-called “papello”.

On Wednesday, the chief of Italy’s anti-mafia parliamentary commission, Beppe Pisanu, reported that the State did not heed the Mafia demands, however a “partial, tacit understanding” rather than “negotiations” did take place between State law enforcement and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra Mafia in the early 1990s.

Bagarella, who is believed to have been one of Riina’s successors and is also in prison serving a life-sentence for several murders, denies ever having had contact with “politicians of any sort”. Senator Marcello Dell’Utri, who has worked closely with Berlusconi since the 1970s and helped found the ex-premier’s Forza Italia political party in 1993, was also cited on Thursday in Palermo, as was ex-minister and current parliament member Calogero Mannino. Mannino requested to be given a fast-track trial, which would shorten the penalty by a third if found guilty. Di Matteo also asked to indict three ex-officers in the anti-Mafia police: Antonio Subranni, Mario Mori and Giuseppe De Donno. Di Matteo asked for charges of false testimony for Nicola Mancino, who served as interior minister from 28 June 1992 to 19 April 1994.

The prosecutor requested charges of Mafia association for Massimo Ciancimino, son of former Palermo mayor Vito Ciancimino, the first Italian politician to be convicted of Mafia membership, a year before his death in 2002.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Prefers to be Economy Minister Than Premier

Partner Northern League does not want ex-premier to head govt

(ANSA) — Rome, January 14 — Silvio Berlusconi said Monday that he prefers to be economy minister, rather than premier, if the centre right wins next month’s general election in Italy amid controversy about the coalition’s failure to say who their candidate to head the government is.

The uncertainty comes after Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party agreed a pact to revive its long-standing alliance with the Northern League earlier this month.

League leader Roberto Maroni made it a condition of the agreement that Berlusconi will not take the helm of an Italian government for the fourth time. The leaders said they will name a premier after the elections if the centre right prevails.

At the weekend, however, the PdL unveiled a campaign logo that featured the words ‘Berlusconi President’.

This sparked speculation that in reality the 76-year-old media magnate does want to lead another government, although Maroni said it referred to the fact that Berlusconi is president of the PdL.

Berlusconi moved to deflate the polemics on Monday when he said that the position of premier is not so appealing to him as it does not carry real power. “I’d prefer to be economy minister because that’s where you have to work on the great machinery on the state,” Berlusconi said in a telephone call to a programme on his Mediaset TV network.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Police, Protesters Clash at Monti’s Railroad Unveiling

‘We must overcome kneejerk resistance’ says premier

(ANSA) — Turin, January 14 — Clashes between police and protesters broke out on Monday in Turin where Italian Premier Mario Monti was unveiling a piece of a controversial high-speed rail line that will link Italy to France. One demonstrator was hospitalized for a cut to his head and one policeman received first aid, while a number of protesters were cited for disorderly conduct. The high-speed rail line, known in Italy as the TAV, will eventually connect Turin to Lyon.

It has sparked years of protests, sometimes violent, from locals concerned over the environmental and financial cost, and activists from both countries have joined forces to block the multi-billion-euro project, to little avail. “We must overcome kneejerk resistance, that have on some occasions blocked infrastructure progress that is important to the transport system and the competitiveness of our country,” said Monti at the inauguration of the Porta Susa international rail hub.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Centre-Left Will Try to Work With Monti, Bersani Tells WaPo

Left will partner Monti for reform, not favours, Bersani says

(ANSA) — Rome, January 14 — Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the Democratic Party (PD) and front-runner to become Italy’s next premier, told The Washington Post in an interview published Sunday that his centre-left coalition, if elected in February, would try to collaborate with outgoing premier Mario Monti to continue reforms aimed at fixing Italy’s economy. “We are open to collaboration. Not exchanging favors, but signing a pact for reforms and reconstruction of the country,” Bersani told the American newspaper.

Monti was appointed to guide Italy from the brink of financial disaster in November 2011 as the head of a technocrat government. Since then, he has introduced a series of austerity measures and systemic reforms that won international praise and saw interest rates on Italian bonds fall by more than half since he took the helm. The measures have been unpopular and created new recessionary pressure on Italy, already suffering a decade of stagnation exacerbated by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Monti resigned in December after the centre-right People of Freedom Party (PdL), led by Silvio Berlusconi, abstained in a parliament vote, threatening Monti’s majority. Monti has since proposed a policy agenda for the next government, to be elected February 24, and announced he would run for premier with the support of a coalition of centrist political parties.

When Bersani was asked why he seemed to stand on the sidelines as Monti and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi hashed out differences in the public spotlight, Bersani explained, “Mr. Berlusconi was responsible for the premature fall of Monti’s government. And Mr. Monti did not like it one bit”.

“We kept our promise to support Monti until the very end — we kept our promise, although it was not easy. So now we just keep watching,” added Bersani.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Kurdish Militants Warn France After Paris Killings

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) said Friday it would hold France responsible if it does not quickly shed light on the slaying of three female Kurdish activists in Paris.

“The fact that the attack was carried out in France is a clear demonstration of France’s responsibility,” the People’s Defence Forces (HPG), the military wing of the rebels, said in a statement published on its website.

“France has a responsibility to immediately shed light on the massacre,” it said. “Or it will be held responsible for the murder of our comrades.”

The warning came a day after three Kurdish women, one of them a founding member of the PKK, were found shot dead at a Kurdish cultural centre in Paris.

Turkish authorities blamed the killings on hawkish factions within the PKK which they said may have wanted to derail recent peace talks between Turkey and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The PKK accused Ankara of trying to shift the blame on Kurds for what it called a “well-organised and professional political murder.”

The killings came days after Turkish media reported that Turkey and the PKK leadership had agreed a roadmap to end a three-decade old insurgency that has claimed more than 45,000 lives. Neither side has confirmed the reports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Property Tax Review ‘Not Dangerous’ Says Rehn

‘But stick to budget consolidation’ says EU commissioner

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 11 — Italy can safely review its policy on the IMU property tax introduced by the technocrat government of Mario Monti but it needs to stay clear of “choppy waters”, European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Friday.

“It is never dangerous to reconsider policies, but it is important that Italy remains on the path of cautious budget consolidation in order to break even,” he said. The three main contenders in next month’s general election have made the highly unpopular tax on primary residences a top issue.

The poll-leading centre-left Democratic Party and outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s new centrist group have said they will reduce it for low earners while ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, currently polling second, has said he will scrap it altogether.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Prosecutors Say ‘Save ILVA’ Decree Violates EU Charter

Measures ‘violate rights to physical, mental health’

(ANSA) — Taranto, January 9 — The Italian government’s ‘Save ILVA’ decree is a “clear violation” of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, prosecutors say in their legal challenge to the law.

Prosecutors in the southern port city of Taranto have gone to Italy’s Constitutional Court with their fight against government efforts to keep open the giant steel mill while it makes upgrades to meet environmental standards.

The ILVA steel plant, which is Italy’s largest, has for years emitted toxins that endanger public health. The government’s recent decree protecting the troubled steel mill contravenes EU-guaranteed rights to physical and mental health, and undermine Italy’s international obligations, the Taranto prosecutors say in their written appeal.

Prosecutors have also claimed that the decree passed by the Italian government, which defines conditions under which the steel plant can continue to operate, constitutes a conflict of powers between branches of the State.

Late last year, Italy’s outgoing technical government passed the decree designed to countermand orders by the Taranto court, which would have effectively shuttered the plant and left thousands of workers off the job.

Last July, the Taranto court ordered a shutdown of the plant’s smelting areas. Months later, the court also sequestered manufactured parts awaiting shipment.

ILVA appealed the court’s seizure orders on the basis of the government’s decree, which permits plant operation at partial capacity while ILVA undertakes well-defined clean-up measures.

When the Taranto court rejected ILVA’s appeal in late November, the company declared imminent total shutdown of the plant, sparking strikes and protest at its facilities in Taranto and near Genoa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Eight-Year Wait for a Home in Stockholm

Would-be Stockholm residents now have longer to wait for an available apartment than ever before, with new statistics showing an average waiting time on the region’s housing queue of eight years.

Last year, 400,000 people were signed up and waiting for an apartment in the nation’s capital, 9 percent more than in 2011 and roughly double the figure from 2006.

The average wait for a house in the region also shot up to 8.5 years — or 15 years for those who prefer to live centrally. The central island Kungsholmen has an average waiting time of 17 years.

These statistics come fresh from Stockholm’s municipal housing queue, run by Stockholms Stads Bostadsförmedling AB.

Maria Nordlöf of Bostadsförmedling explained that the city’s housing scheme is a whole different game from 10 to 20 years ago when it was possible to find a home in the centre of Stockholm.

“If you’re looking for a rental apartment, you should consider the entire Stockholm region,” she told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

Further outside the centre of the Stockholm region, in areas such as Huddinge, Upplands Väsby, Järfälla or Botkyrka, the average waiting time dropped to six years.

But living outside of the city is no solution, according to Lina Glans, CEO of the Jagvillhabostad.nu (“I need a house now”) website and lobbyist for increased housing in the nation’s capital.

“The situation is extremely frustrating and affects a whole generation,” she told the paper.

She stated that many people can’t begin a real life as an adult until they have a stable housing situation in the same area as their work.

“That young people can’t live where all the work is will affect Sweden’s future development and growth.”

Despite the extensive waiting times and long list of housing hopefuls, only 1,700 new homes were built in Stockholm last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedes Most Worried About Organized Crime

Sweden’s defence and security elite gathers for three days of debating, dining and skiing amid reports that a majority of Swedes believe organized crime is the biggest security threat.

The conference in the popular winter resort Sälen is organized annually by Society and Defence (Folk och Försvar), an umbrella organization that aims to stimulate public debate about defence and security policy.

Sweden’s Prince Daniel is attending the 2013 conference and among the speakers are the commander in chief of Sweden’s Armed Forces, Sverker Göranson; Defence Minister Karin Enström; EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström; Nato General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen; National Police Commissioner, Bengt Svensson; and Swedish Security (Säpo) chief, Anders Thornberg.

As the conference participants gathered in Sälen, a report from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap) showed that a majority of Swedes see international organized crime as the top security threat to the country.

Three out of four respondents said that they are quite worried or very worried about organized crime.

Seventy-three percent said they are most worried about relations between the Muslim and Christian world, while two out of three respondents cited depletion of the Earth’s resources as their top concern.

The past year’s events in the Middle East and an influx of refugees are two other issues that concern Swedes, cited by 65 and 56 percent of respondents respectively.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ugly Face of UKIP: Sunday Mirror Exposes Racist and Homophobic Views of Party Members

The UK Independence Party has surged to a record high in the opinion polls under its brash leader Nigel Farage.

But a Sunday Mirror investigation today reveals a sickening catalogue of racist and homophobic views held by some of its biggest supporters.

They use the party’s official online “members forum” to express extremist and offensive opinions on issues ranging from gay marriage to bogus links between homosexuals and paedophilia.

Their outbursts are exposed as the party gears up against both the Tories and Labour in next year’s European elections, with its flagship policy that Britain should pull out of the EU.

On the forum, senior UKIP member Dr Julia Gasper branded gay rights a “lunatic’s charter” and claimed some homosexuals prefer sex with animals. She added: “As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the subject.”

The former parliamentary candidate and UKIP branch chairman in Oxford now faces the sack over her comments.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Acid Found on Train Sparks Manhunt

A bottle of hydrochloric acid left on a train sparks a major alert and leads to a station being evacuated and closed.

Police have released CCTV images of a man wanted in connection with the discovery of hydrochloric acid on a train.

Police want to speak to this man in connection with the discovery

Middlesbrough station was evacuated and closed after a passenger reported a burning smell on board a Northern Rail train to Darlington at around 7.16pm on Sunday.

The hazardous liquid was left in a drinks bottle in the middle of the train.

Emergency services, including firefighters and an ambulance, were called to the station as a precaution due to the fumes from the highly corrosive substance.

Detective Inspector Mick Jackson, of British Transport Police, said: “We have been making enquiries, including checking CCTV, to ascertain how and why the bottle came to be on the train, and believe the man pictured may be able to help.

“If you know him, we would like to hear from you.”

Police do not believe the discovery was terror-related.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK: Alarming Rise in Child Sexual Exploitation

The UK has seen an “alarming” 22% year-on-year rise in children being sexually exploited, the charity Barnardo’s says.

Barnardo’s said that a quarter of the 1,452 victims it had recorded had been trafficked for sex within the country.

Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: “There is an alarming rise in the number of children being moved around the country by abusers.

Ms Carrie said: “Domestic trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most sophisticated form of this abuse; organised violation through networks of criminals.

“Yet it isn’t monitored nearly well enough by the authorities and comparatively little focus is given to stopping vulnerable children from being exploited in this way.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Boy: 13, Who Raped Woman in Front of His Friends is Jailed for Just Three Years… Because He Said ‘Sorry’

A boy of 13 who overpowered a woman then raped her in front of his two friends will spend just three years locked away for his crimes.

Balal Khan — thought to be one of the youngest convicted rapists in Britain — targeted the 20-year-old as she walked home.

He subjected her to a severe beating then screamed at her ‘Do what I say or I’ll kill you’, before putting her through the ordeal of a terrifying sex attack.

Then he stole her bag and phone and even took a call from his victim’s boyfriend to whom he bragged about what he had done.

But after pleading guilty to charges of rape and robbery the teenager was sentenced to just three years because of his age — and because he said ‘sorry’.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Chichester Hospital Worker Charged With Raping Patient

A healthcare assistant has been charged with raping a female patient at a hospital in West Sussex.

Sajin Panikkassery, 29, is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one of rape at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester on 10 January, say police.

Mr Panikkassery, who worked at the hospital, is due to appear before Worthing magistrates on Monday.

The patient, aged in her 20s, is receiving help and support and is no longer at the hospital.

Sussex Police said it was receiving full co-operation from Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.

The trust said Mr Panikkassery would not be working while the court proceedings took place.

Police have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Heroin Use Shouldn’t be a Crime PM Urged and Dealers Should be Licensed to Sell ‘Legal Highs’, Say MPs and Peers

The possession and use of heroin, ecstasy and crack cocaine should be decriminalised, a powerful group of MPs and peers say today. In a controversial finding, their report says giving criminal records to young drug users creates ‘higher levels of unemployment, homelessness and relationship problems’.

It also has little impact on drug use, according to the politicians, who include senior figures such as former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson and ex-MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller.

The study also calls for licences to be issued to allow drug dealers to sell so-called ‘legal highs’, which have flooded on to the market in recent years.

Lord Lawson and Baroness Manningham-Buller, the cross-party group of MPs and peers contains other heavyweight figures such as former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Richard and former Lib Dem president Lord Dholakia.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Paranoid Schizophrenic ‘Broke Into Rural Home and Stabbed Man 80 Times in Killing of Extraordinary Ferocity’

[WARNING: **** EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTENT. ****]

A paranoid schizophrenic suffering from delusions stabbed a father-of-three more than 80 times and sawed into his neck after walking into a rural home through an unlocked door.

Severely injured Daniel Quelch managed to flee to the kitchen of his parents’ home despite suffering a catalogue of horrific wounds at the hands of complete stranger Benjamin Frankum.

But the attacker managed to overpower Mr Quelch inflicting the deadly neck wound with a large serrated knife, in what prosecutors have described as a killing of ‘extraordinary ferocity’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Taxi Driver Who Stole £270 From Blind Pensioner in Oldham Spared Jail

Shafak Hussain, 36, took unsuspecting passenger Jill Holland, 52, to a cashpoint after he had picked her up from hospital.

She had wanted to take out £30 to pay for her fare.

But the driver callously withdrew £300 — pocketing £270 and handing her the £30. Father-of-two Hussain, who complained of racism after he was arrested, was rumbled when Miss Holland called her bank the following day.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Youths Brandishing Machetes and Truncheons Target Kenley Home in ‘Violent’ Night Burglary

The man said: “We heard this almighty crash downstairs. I thought at first it was the mirror falling off a wall.

“But then we heard another noise, so my wife opened the bedroom door and then she was confronted with four or five blokes coming up the stairs. They were shouting, ‘give us your money’.

“They came through the door and pushed my wife back into the bedroom, and they just kept on asking for money. I kept on saying there is no money.

“That’s when they pushed me in the chest and they raised their truncheons. We gave them the money in my wife’s purse and they took money from our friends who were in the other room.

“They didn’t say they were going to kill us, but you know what is going to happen to you if you don’t do what they say.

“My wife is very traumatised, I mean, five people with truncheons and a machete, she feels very vulnerable in her own home. We have been violated.

All the raiders were hooded, with scarves covering up to the bridge of their noses.

Liban Ali, 19, of Moffat Road, Thornton Heath, has been charged with aggravated burglary. Three other men have been arrested and bailed.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Al-Azhar’s Double Game to Islamize Egypt and Maintain Power

In recent years the authorities of the most important Sunni university, supported the youth of the revolution and are now with the Muslim Brotherhood. For the great scholar of Islam Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, such behavior is typical of the University, which has always supported those who govern. The new constitution based on Sharia will not transform Egypt into an Islamic state, for now. It takes advantage of the ignorance of a population that only trusts imams, all formed by al-Azhar. The document is primarily a ideological move by Islamists to appear like “real Muslims” before the Islamic world. Sharia, Islam, religion reassure the population. The future game of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Islam itself will evolve in the coming months on specific topics: jobs, the economy and development.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — After replacing the heads of the Constitutional Court, officials close to the Islamist line President Mohamed Morsi and the passage of the Constitution, only the University of al-Azhar has the power and the authority to stop the spread of Islamic extremism in Egypt. The entrance of the Sharia into civil law concerns not only the Christian minority, but also Muslims. Until now, the most important university of Sunni Islam has maintained a moderate position and more than once its Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb gave the impression of being on the side of the secular opposition against the establishment dominated by Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis. However, according to the great scholar of Islam Samir Khalil Samir, such behavior is just a tactic employed by al-Azhar to maintain power. Starting from the very history of the university, responsible for the formation of thousands of imams, the priest examines the situation in Egypt, a victim of an Islam that uses ignorance and illiteracy to dominate the population. The constitution based on Sharia law approved in December is the result of this strategy and will not turn Egypt into an Islamic state. It is confusing and full of contradictions and is being used by Islamists to show the Egyptians that they are “true Muslims.” For the scholar of Islam, al-Azhar has a great responsibility in the current situation in the nation. The university forms all imams in Egypt and most of the Sunni Muslim religious authorities throughout the world.

For centuries, al-Azhar, has followed the ruling power. The rector of the University is appointed by the President of the Republic. The expenses of the organization and the formation of its imams are largely paid for by the government. As a result its support for the Constitution that binds civil law with Islamic law and its future support to the Muslim Brotherhood is not surprising. On the one hand the university presents itself as the spokesman for more balanced and representative Sunni Islam. On the other, it is opposed to the Salafists, but only because the majority of the population considers them too extreme. By supporting them, it would lose support.

For this reason, when in 2011 the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis launched overtly Islamic extremist slogans, the university turned against them, pointing out that what was taking place on the streets did not represent the true Islam, which by its nature is a religion of the just middle ground, without excesses. Only al-Azhar can represent the true Muslim faith, said the imam. It is responsible for the formation not only of the Egyptian imams. Its campus is attended by tens of thousands of young Muslims from all over the world.

The statements made in recent months by the Imam al-Tayeb, at first glance, against the Islamist government, only serve to safeguard this image in the eyes of the Sunni Muslim world. The imams who study at al-Azhar are viewed with admiration by the entire Muslim population.

Playing a double game to maintain power

Since the fall of Mubarak the university’s leaders, among them the Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, have played a double game. Before the election, and they criticized the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, asserting that Islam is the religion of the just middle ground, represented by al-Azhar, giving the impression of being on the side of the young people of the Arab Spring. When the Islamists won, al-Azhar recognized their success, claiming it was the result of the vote of the majority of Egyptians.

Until now, al-Azhar has maintained a moderate position, but it has never really stood up to the Islamists. As pointed out by Noha El-Hennawy, in an article published last January 7 in the Egypt Independent, it has always been with the State. Its leaders are on the side of those in power.

On January 5 Salafist imams issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from greeting Orthodox Copts for Christmas, which falls on January 7 according to the Julian calendar. Al-Azhar immediately pronounced itself against this position, knowing that no one would dare to contest its view, also because it is a centuries-old custom. In this way, the institution gained the admiration of Christians and moderate Muslims and has not lost support among the population.

Al-Azhar’s role in the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory

For decades, Egyptian presidents were life-long leaders. Only Hosni Mubarak (1981 — 11 February 2011) was deposed by a popular uprising. The Arab Spring was a novelty in our world, a concrete example of change. But then how did the Muslim Brotherhood win the elections?

The movement founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928, was banned by the government since the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser (1956 — 1970). There were openings under Anwar al Sadat (1970 — 1981). He was closer to the position of the Muslim Brotherhood and allowed them to participate in political life, but not to expose their symbol. With Hosni Mubarak, they had about 20% of the parliament, but entered under other names. Throughout the period, the Brotherhood entered into the system, hiding under a different guise, but in fact it has been in politics for decades.

In 2011, they created a recognized party (Justice and Freedom), they emerged and found no real political opposition. In the elections the party of Mubarak and his men were sidelined, branded as members of the regime. The young leaders of the protests splintered into dozens of movements. Amr Moussa, Mohamed el-Baradei and Hamdeen Sabahi, the only political leaders or experts, formed three different parties. The only solid block were the Muslim Brotherhood, followed by Salafis and today they still are.

In Egypt, the population is simple, about 40% are illiterate and blindly follows the decisions of its religious leaders. For many Egyptians religion is the only certain thing. Sharia and Islam are words that reassure people. For this reason many voted for an Islamist majority and this Constitution, even if few actually read it. People voted trusting in others, especially the Imams. They are all trained by al-Azhar, which has several components within its structures, including many close to radical Islam. If the University comes out against those who promote Sharia and Islam it would be a scandal. It can only raise its voice against the Salafists, considered too extreme, but it can not oppose Muslim Brotherhood in strict sense.

The true nature of the Constitution based on Sharia

As was the case for the elections for the Constitutional referendum the people voted blindly. The document was promoted among the people by imams and persons recognized as true Muslims.

But what is the real significance of this Constitution based on sharia? What does the victory of the “yes” in the referendum actually mean?

In Egypt, less than 1% of the population can read or understand a legal text. This document is actually a habitus, an ideological game of the Islamists to say: “We are true Muslims and govern a Muslim country, trust us.” But it is impossible to build a State governed by this Constitution. In Sharia there are unacceptable points for contemporary thought, especially all the physical punishments (hudud) required by Islamic law. If you read the articles of the Constitution, they do not have the precision that is expected of a constitutional text, everything is very confused, generic, open to contradictory interpretations. The attempt is to unite religion and state. However, the population is becoming increasingly aware that it is one thing to act according to the rules of Islam and another to have them within the civil law. One example is the treatment of homosexuals.

In principle the four Sunni schools (85% of Muslims) considered homosexuality the equivalent of adultery for married heterosexuals, who are punished with death by stoning, or as immoral for those who are not married, a crime that carries with it the penalty of flogging. In order to proceed with punishment condemnation, however, is required which includes presenting proof, the testimony of four men, a photograph, or a DNA test. According to the most famous Sunni jurist, the Egyptian Yusuf al-Qaradawi:

“The jurists have had differing opinions about the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same penalty for zina, or should both the active and passive participant be killed? Although this may seem a cruel punishment, it was advised to maintain the purity of the Islamic society, and to cleanse it from these perverted elements. “

In practice, few Muslim countries apply these rules of law. In Egypt, the police sometimes put homosexuals in jail, but frees them after a few weeks. If Sharia is applied to the letter, officers would be required to kill them. Thank God they do not! In fact, the idea of ??introducing Sharia law into society is very ambiguous. Until now, its presence allows the Muslim Brotherhood to present themselves to the people as true Muslims. However, no one knows how it will be applied in this Constitution. Therein lies the problem.

Could Egypt ever become an Islamic state?

Egypt will never be an Islamic state like Saudi Arabia or Iran. This would represent the major loss of this government, which has already been subjected to strong criticism. Throughout the history of the country no government has ever fought against an opposition that embraces such a large part of the population.

Respect for the dictates of Sharia is relative in modern Egypt. Islamic law should be interpreted. The vagueness of the Constitution, and therefore its interpretation mute the idea of ??a strict application of the law, but for those who do not believe that Sharia is the “word of God” — Christians, but also many Muslims — it is unacceptable.

The opinion of many is that the Egyptian Muslim world has to experience an Islamic government led by the Muslim Brotherhood to realize their true nature. To obtain approval, the Islamists have always used their status as persecuted, portraying themselves as victims of despotism and secularism. Now that they are in government we will see if their system is correct or not, but in order to decide, the people must first see them at work. In the coming months, they will be judged on concrete issues: the economy, jobs and infrastructure. Not only on ideas or adherence to Islam. If their presence corresponds, however, to the will of the majority, tehn we must let them try.

The Christian victims of extremism and responsibilities of al-Azhar

The vast majority of Muslims are against violence against Christians and extremist attitudes, such as those of Islamic radicals in Syria or against the Copts in Egypt. In some videos filmed in the Syrian war many young militants are shown attacking villages because inhabited by Christians, shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is great). This phrase is both a prayer and a war cry. These small groups do not represent Islam, but they are a reality that has been part of this world for 14 centuries. The Salafists, the most extreme fringe of Sunni Islam, are fanatics, because rendered fanatics by the imam, who thanks to their authority justify violent acts in the name of Islam and God. Al-Azhar has an immense responsibility towards this world that has made its official entry into Egyptian politics. Although the University does not explicitly follow and indeed rejects the extremist line, it harbors a fanatical minority within its structures which encourages people to use violence in the name of religion.

To fight an evil we must recognize that it is an “evil”. These contradictions have their origin in the genesis of Islam. Many of the teachings that justify violence are based on facts attributed to Muhammad. When a Muslim does something violent, he always refers to a passage from the Koran or an episode in the life of the Prophet. Changing this vision requires a real commitment on the part of al-Azhar, not only statements issued by its religious leaders.

In order to survive Islam must change. Many Muslims say that you can not grow while believing that nothing has changed over the past 14 centuries. This is the line of dialogue with other worlds and with faiths other than Islam. The Koran can not be understood as text determined by God, and for this reason immutable and impossible to interpret. A critical and fresh reading of the Koran is imperative, at the risk of no longer being credible.

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See

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, The lawful and the prohibited in Islam (Al-Falah Foundation, nd), chap. 3, Section 1. The Physical Appetites, p. 165: “Sexual Perversion: A Major Sin”.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Al-Azhar’s-double-game-to-Islamize-Egypt-and-maintain-power-26856.html

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Egypt: 15 Years in Prison for Mother and Seven Children, Converts to Christianity

The case concerns Nadia Mohamed Ali, a mother of eight children, born Christian, but converted to Islam to marry her husband. After his death, she decides to return to her original religion with her children. The authorities accuse her of having changed names on documents to skip procedure.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The criminal court of Beni Suef (115 km south of Cairo) has sentenced an entire family to prison for converting to Christianity. Nadia Mohamed Ali and her children Mohab, Maged, Sherif, Amira, Amir, and Nancy Ahmed Mohamed abdel-Wahab will spend 15 years in prison. Seven other people involved in the case were sentenced to five years in prison.

The case of the family of Nadia Ali Mohamed began in 2004 when, after the conversion, she and her children decided to replace their Muslim names on their identity cards with their Christian names and city of residence change. To do this she was aided by seven Registry office employees e. Born Christian, she had changed her religion to marry her husband Mustafa Mohamed Abdel-Wahab. After the man’s death in 1991, Nadia decided to return to her religion of origins and to push her seven children to convert. In 2006, one of the boys was arrested by police in an information center in the city of Beni Suef. Suspicious of the young man from the documents he as carrying, where he had changed its name to Bishoy Malak Abdel-Massih, police agents interrogated him for hours until he confessed his conversion to Christianity as desired by the mother. The judges then decide to stop not only the woman, but all of her children and seven clerks from the registration office, responsible for changing the documents.

An individuals religious faith is listed in Egyptian identity cards. Christians, converted to Islam for various reasons that attempt to return to the religion to which they belong have enormous difficulty in correcting their names on the documents. This leads many people to forge them, risking prison. The reverse process, ie the transition from Christianity to Islam is not hindered, and in many cases is favored by the very Registry officials.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Libya: After Attack on Italian Consul, Security to be Upped

Salafist extremists behind attack, Rome will not leave Cyrenaica

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Security measures were upped for Italian consul to Benghazi Guido De Sanctis after gunmen opened fire on his armoured car Saturday in an attack which could have been deadly, well informed sources in Libya said. The diplomat was given an armoured vehicle following the September 11 attack against the US consulate in Benghazi in which US ambassador Chris Sevens and another three American officials died.

According to the same sources, Italy is considering whether to postpone the arrival of the new consul who will replace De Sanctis, who had been scheduled to leave next week for his new post in Doha. After the attack however, the same sources said, it is hard for Italy — the only European country with a diplomatic post in Benghazi except for Malta which has a small office — to abandon Cyrenaica, a region with 80% of Libya’s economic resources. The consulate has an important role not only as far as cultural relations and visas are concerned, but also in assisting Italian companies which are already in the area or planning to invest there.

After this last, failed attack, authorities in Tripoli are working to boost security in the country and are aiming to create a special force to protect foreign diplomats in the country. The diplomatic security unit would be comprised of police forces and troops trained abroad and operate under the supervision of the defence ministry.

Security measures around the Italian consulate were already high and all foreign diplomats have now to warn authorities in Tripoli if they mean to travel more than 80km from their base.

But Libyan authorities still consider these measures insufficient.

The attack by unidentified gunmen who opened fire with Kalashnikov guns against De Sanctis’ vehicle has been compared to an attack last June against the convoy of British Ambassador Dominic Asquith which was reportedly better organized. The British diplomat was unharmed.

According to the same sources who quoted local press reports, many in Libya believe that the attack against De Sanctis should be attributed to the success of the mission in Italy of provisional Libyan leader El-Mgarief, who was received last Thursday at the Italian foreign ministry together with a delegation of Tripoli’s government and 70 Italian companies.

The militants behind the attack are allegedly concerned that efforts by the new government to boost economic and diplomatic relations with the international community could signal the success of the revolution. Many believe they are members of extremist Salafite movements close to al Qaida active in Cyrenaica. The area has been a stronghold of the revolution but is now at the centre of terror activities against members of countries which supported the revolution to oust Gaffadi, which led to the deadly attack in which Ambassador Stevens died.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Diana West: The Fox Effect, Pt. 3

Saudi journalist Hazma Kashgari (photo above) has spent almost the entire past year in a Saudi prison — the Islamic Gulag — for tweeting an imaginary conversation with Mohammed. King Abdullah — the man Barack Obama bowed to, the man George W. Bush kissed and held hands with, and the man whose nephew, Prince Talal bin Alwaleed, is a major stock-holder in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — put him there. Kashgari’s story, and treatment of his story at Fox and elsewhere, is below.

From the vault:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Migration Flows to Saudi Arabia Must be Regulated to Avoid Another Rizana Nafeek

Source talks to AsiaNews about illegal labour practices involving migrants to Saudi Arabia from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. “Exporting” countries fail to protect their migrants. In Rizana Nafeek’s case, Sri Lankan authorities failed to provide her with a lawyer during her trial.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) — “The government of Sri Lanka deserted Rizana Nafeek; first, by allowing her to go to a foreign country even though she was a minor; then, by leaving her all alone to face the court without a lawyer,” an anonymous Saudi source spoke to AsiaNews about the young Sri Lankan Muslim woman who was executed yesterday in Saudi Arabia for allegedly killing an infant.

Although Sri Lankan authorities expressed their condolences to the family, with parliament holding a minute of silence in her memory, Rizana’s fate shows that the real problem is not the death penalty but “the trafficking of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers into the kingdom,” the source said.

In her case, errors were made from the start, the source explained, beginning with her arrest in 2005 following the child’s death and in 2007 when the court sentenced her to death.

“Where was the Sri Lankan Embassy in the past five, six years? A Sri Lankan national, a human being above all, was in prison. If she had received assistance right away, perhaps things might have turned out differently.”

The single case aside, the problem of underage migrant workers remains. “From a Sri Lankan perspective, I do not see any good reason to allow minors to emigrate for work,” the source said. “Caring for babies is a hard job and requires training. If something happens to the infant who is to blame?”

From this point of view, “the government of Sri Lanka is responsible for what happened to Rizana Nafeek.” At the same time, “Saudi Arabia is also responsible for allowing a minor to come in to do a tough job.”

News about children, sometimes their mothers, killed or beaten by maids, babysitters and cleaning ladies appear in Saudi media on a regular basis. “This is becoming a humanitarian issue that must be dealt with,” the source explained.

Clear rules to regulate migration flows are needed. First of all, human traffickers must be identified and arrested in labour “exporting” countries likes Sri Lanka, India or Pakistan as well as in Saudi Arabia. Secondly, “Bilateral agreements protecting the rights of migrants must also be signed,” the source said. “Migrants should be 21 or older and have an adequate level of education and training.”

In 2011, Saudi Arabia signed a series of agreements with the Philippines in that sense.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Russia

Russia to Produce Soyuz Successor by 2020

(AGI) Moscow, Jan 14 — Russia is planning to replace its Soyuz spacecraft with a more modern version by 2020, the space agency Roscosmos made the announcement on its website. The project is expected to cost around 70 billion dollars. It is also planning to send an unmanned vehicle to the moon. ..

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Aceh Bans Women From Straddling Motorcycles

Indonesia’s northwestern province Aceh has introduced a controversial new law banning women from sitting on motorcycles with their legs apart. Activists are calling for a reversal of the ban.

Despite opposition from human rights activist, authorities in Aceh’s city administration of Lhokseumawe decided to release a law banning women from straddling motorbikes earlier this week.

“We’re going ahead with the ban. There’s no resistance here. The criticism did not come from Aceh,” Dasni Yuzar, the city secretary of Lhokseumawe, stated in an interview with DW.

Yuzar also said around 50 streamers had already been distributed all over Lhokseumawe, explaining the proper way for women to sit on the back of motorbikes. Almost a week ago leaflets were distributed to government offices and villages to inform residents about the planned bylaw.

Mayor Suaidi Yahya, who had proposed the law, appealed to the public on Monday, January 7, saying it was not meant to discriminate against women, but instead help the implementation of Sharia law in Aceh.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sri Lanka: People in the Streets to Mark the Justice System’s ‘Black Friday’

After a sham impeachment process, parliament votes a motion against Supreme Court Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. President Mahinda Rajapaksa wants to replace her with one of his cronies. Thousands of people take to the street to mourn the death of justice.

Colombo (AsiaNews) — For thousands of people-lawyers, politicians, religious leaders and activists-, today is ‘black Friday’, a day to mourn the death of justice in front of parliament building, wearing dark hats and flags.

The debate over the motion began in the legislature yesterday and will end tomorrow. If lawmakers vote in its favour, President Mahinda Rajapaksa can replace Justice Badaranayake with another justice.

Various opposition parties, including the United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance, said they would vote against the motion. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party, a Marxist party, said it would boycott the vote.

Tabled in parliament in November, the motion against Badaranayake blames her for some 20, vaguely defined offences that range from having undeclared assets to violating the constitution.

More than a month ago, the chief justice was subjected to sham hearings by a select committee of parliament that culminated in her lawyers walking out on 7 December when the committee refused to give them the list of witnesses.

Civil society groups, including Catholic and Buddhist leaders, and the international community have criticised the whole process as a way for the government to interfere with the courts.

Yesterday, some government supporters who tried to attack a march organised by ordinary Sri Lankan and lawyers organisations were stopped by police.

Anton Marcus, a Catholic, was among the protesters. He said that the government is showing how far it it is willing to go to ride roughshod over anybody to violate the constitution.

For Fr Sarath Iddamalgoda, a human rights activist and a member of the Christian Solidarity Movement, independent courts are essential for democracy.

“There is always talk about development, but the poor are denied their rights in the name of the economy,” he said.

Local and foreign private enterprises, he noted, are grabbing land from farmers with the support of the government, and the exploitation and underpayment of workers is a major problem.

“For these people, the only hope is the courts’ relative independence,” the priest explained. “However, if the government takes over the courts, then no one can be sure that their rights will be protected.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Beijing Bathes in Thick Smog, Deemed Dangerous by UN

Chinese media have criticized high levels of smog in the capital, after authorities were forced to advise people to stay indoors at the weekend. Pollution has hit levels deemed dangerous by the World Health Organization.

The Chinese capital Beijing was blanketed in thick grey smog for a fifth consecutive day on Monday, prompting the national press to question what can be done to improve the city’s air quality.

Pollution levels peaked over the weekend at a level more than twice as high as the benchmark considered dangerous by the World Health Organization.

Some construction sites were instructed to down tools, schools cancelled outdoor activities and some factories ran below capacity on Monday, as the city sought to bring the pollution levels under control. The measures showed some signs of progress by the afternoon, according to figures compiled by the US Embassy.

“How can we get out of this suffocating siege of pollution?” the Communist Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, asked in a front-page editorial. “Let us clearly view managing environmental pollution with a sense of urgency.”

State media are thought to have a comparatively free hand to report on issues like pollution, primarily because it is so apparent to all.

China is in the midst of its coldest winter in years, prompting higher use of energy at home. The country is also one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets.

Authorities on Saturday warned people to stay indoors, avoid outdoor exercise and steer clear of the most polluted areas in central Beijing if possible.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Police Struggle to Keep Lid on More Racial Clashes in Logan, While Logan Mayor Pam Parker Calls for “Zero Tolerance” Approach

RACIAL violence erupted in Logan again last night, as police struggled to separate a group of Pacific Islanders and Aborigines for the third night.

Premier Campbell Newman joined police in appealing for calm, while Logan mayor Pam Parker demanded an immediate increase in police presence and a “zero tolerance” approach in the south-eastern Queensland multicultural community.

Two families living just 200m apart have blamed each other for violent clashes that have turned suburban streets into a battlefield.

Up to 40 people fought with sticks, planks, metal bars and bricks over consecutive nights at Douglas St, Woodridge.

Both sides claim racial tensions are behind the violence, which started after cars were vandalised on Saturday night.

Soane Palau needed eight stitches for a head wound he said was sustained outside his home while defending his family from an angry mob early yesterday.

He has lived in Douglas St for five years with his eight children, including four adult sons, and said it was the first incident of its kind.

He said the violence came from run-ins over a period of years between Islander and Aboriginal residents.

“As Tongans we are very friendly people and we want to leave it that way,” Mr Palau, 47, said. “Because of what has happened before with Pacific Islander boys, we copped it as well. They look at us and think we’re all the same but we’re not. We want to live in peace.”

Colin Barlow, from the rival house down the road, said he was forced to hide as Islanders pelted the home with bricks and threatened to set it alight on Saturday night.

“There were 11 of us all in the back room with the door locked, cupboards pushed up against it,” he said. “My son was next to the door with a knife. He said ‘I’m going to die before I let anyone hurt my family’. As far as the Aboriginal people are concerned, it is racial. It’s been going on for too long. People being attacked, set upon, the same group of people.”

The area has attracted growing attention after a series of tragic encounters, including the death of Aboriginal youth Jackson Doolan, 17, last month…

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

China Expands Media Reach in Africa

With the introduction of a radio broadcaster, news agency, TV station and newspaper to the African market, the reach of Chinese media is rapidly expanding. Some say China aims to dominate the African media sector.

In the first six months of 2012 alone, China invested $45 billion (34 billion euros) in Africa, while Sino-African trade has tripled in the last three years. Now, the Asian giant is seeking to make a name for itself in the African media sector by investing in modern technologies and giving scholarships to African journalists to work in China.

Mary Harper, author and Africa expert with the BBC, said China’s growing influence in the media sector is a “natural progression.”

“If you look at China in the past few years, it looks at Africa as a giant resource and it’s now Africa’s biggest trading partner — it’s replaced the West,” she told DW.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Fears Somali Islamists May Display Dead Frenchmen

(AGI) — Paris, Jan 14 — France fears that Somali jihadists are planning to display the bodies of soldiers and an intelligence agent. “All indications unfortunately lead us to believe that al-Shabab are preparing to organise a disgraceful and macabre display,” said Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The agent was killed during a failed operation to rescue a French hostage who has been held since July 2009 by al-Shebaab.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Mali Rebels Take Central Town of Diabaly

Jihadists in Mali have seized a central town as they push southwards. The developments followed assurances from France that Mali rebel advancements had been halted after airstrikes in the north of the country.

Islamist rebels battling to take control of Mali on Monday took the town of Diabaly, in the center of the country, according to the French defense ministry.

The developments come after jihadists launched a counter-offensive earlier in the day against Malian government forces backed by French air raids and ground troops. The latter alliance has been trying to prevent Islamist rebels, who already have control of northern Mali, from pushing southwards.

And the news also comes despite earlier assurances from French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday that the Islamist rebels had been largely seen off. “Blocking the terrorists, that’s done,” Fabius told RTL radio and LCI television in an interview. “What we started today was taking care of the terrorists’ strongholds.”

Fabius added that Gao, one of three northern Malian towns captured last year by the al Qaeda-linked rebels, was one of the strongholds that had been targeted.

Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had also told i-Tele channel that the strikes were to prepare the ground for a combined Malian and African force to retake control of the country by attacking rebel camps, infrastructure and warehouses.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mali’s Islamists Threaten to Strike on French Soil

Islamists based in northern Mali, under daily bombardment by France’s warplanes, vowed Monday to avenge the assault on French soil as well as in Africa.

“France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” said Abou Dardar, a leader of Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), speaking to AFP by telephone.

Asked where they would strike, he said: “Everywhere. In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.”

The French offensive has blocked the advance of Islamist forces towards the capital Bamako from their bases in the north which they have controlled since last April.

On Sunday, French aviation struck at targets in the central Islamist strongholds of Gao and Kidal.

Sixty Islamists were killed in Gao alone on Sunday, according to residents and a regional security force.

The MUJAO official also referred to France’s eight hostages held in the Sahel region.

“We will make a statement on the hostages today. From today all the mujahedeen are together.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mali: Hundreds Fleeing to Mauritania

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 14 — Hundreds of Malians, mostly from the cities of Lere’ and Konna, have been fleeing the conflict by crossing the border with Mauritania in the past few hours, the local press reports. Once in Mauritania, the refugees are reportedly travelling to the city of Fassala. According to reports citing the refugees, jihadist militants who were based in Lere’ and Konna have been fleeing the area hit by French air raids.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Malian Islamists Take Over Town North of Capital

(AGI) — Bamako, Jan 14 — The Islamists who occupy the north of Mali are advancing south into government-controlled areas. They have taken the town of Diabaly, 400 kilometres north of the capital, Bamako. A Malian security source said a helicopter has been sent to the area. The rebels are believed to come from the area near the border with Mauritania, and are fleeing French bombardments.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Turkey Sets Its Sights on Africa

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Gabon, Niger and Senegal as part of an African tour. China, India and Brazil have all increased their presence on the continent. Now Turkey is in the mix.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Immigration is British Society’s Biggest Problem, Shows Survey of Public

Immigration is regarded by the public as the biggest issue facing British society, a major new survey taking stock of the state of the country reveals.

One in three people believes tension between immigrants and people born in the UK is the major cause of division, while well over half regard it as one of the top three causes.

Over the past two decades, both immigration and emigration have increased to historically high levels, with those entering the country exceeding those leaving by more than 100,000 in every year since 1998

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Doctor Who Worked in Hospitals Here Failed to Reveal Conviction for Drugs Smuggling

A NIGERIAN doctor who was imprisoned for drugs smuggling went on to work in a number of Irish hospitals.

Dr Chidozie Onovo (43) worked as a senior house officer and a psychiatric registrar in the Munster region between 2004 and 2008.

This was despite him being convicted at Southwark Crown Court in London in 1998 of trying to smuggle 4.5kg of cannabis at Heathrow Airport and sentenced to two years in prison.

A Medical Council fitness to practice hearing held in Dublin this morning heard that, in his registration applications, Dr Onovo denied he had any criminal convictions.

However his criminal record only came to light when he went to work in New Zealand. Background checks by immigration officials revealed his drugs conviction.

He was convicted at the District Court in Christchurch of supplying false or misleading information to an immigration official and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Dr Onovo did not attend this morning’s hearing and the fitness to practice committee heard that efforts to contact him and trace his current whereabouts have been unsuccessful.

The hearing continues.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Obama Will Seek Citizenship Path in One Fast Push

WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Paul Ryan Backs Marco Rubio’s Immigration Plan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s immigration plan in a Facebook post, a high-profile endorsement from a potential rival.

“Senator Rubio is exactly right on the need to fix our broken immigration system,” Ryan wrote on his Facebook page. “I support the principles he’s outlined: modernization of our immigration laws; stronger security to curb illegal immigration; and respect for the rule of law in addressing the complex challenge of the undocumented population. Our future depends on an immigration system that works.”

Rubio has not introduced a bill detailing his immigration policy. He told the Wall Street Journal that he supports citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but that they should be allowed to stay: “They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service.” Most would then be able to apply for permanent residency and possibly citizenship, but “they’d get behind everybody who came before them” in line. The plan already faces some pushback from conservatives who see it as another form of amnesty.

Both Rubio and Ryan are considered likely presidential candidates.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

‘We Don’t Know How Many People Will Come From Bulgaria and Romania’: UK’s Housing Market to Come Under Pressure From New Wave of EU Immigrants, Eric Pickles Warns

Ministers are under fire for refusing to release figures on how many Romanian and Bulgarian migrants could come to Britain when labour market controls are lifted at the end of this year.

An influx of migrants from the two countries will create ‘problems’ with the scarce housing supply, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles warned — but he refused to give out details of how many were expected to come.

Some 21million Romanians and 7million Bulgarians will be free to travel and work in Britain from the end of this year when transitional controls on EU migrants expire.

Mr Pickles yesterday confirmed he had seen estimates of how many would come to the UK but refused to divulge the information.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Estonia all joined the EU in 2004 — giving them unrestricted access to the UK’s labour market.

Since then, the number of immigrants from these ‘A8’ nations, which have 73million people between them, has rocketed from just 94,000 to 1,079,000.

Prime Minister David Cameron backed Mr Pickles’ refusal to publish the Government’s immigration estimates.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Ban on Graphic Abortion Signs a Free Speech Threat

One group of pro-life activists in Colorado has been demonstrating against abortion almost every day. They often carry signs with messages like “Protect the unborn” or “Let your baby live.”

But some are much more graphic.

Now the state Supreme Court in Denver is allowing an injunction against such signs to stand, ruling they cause “psychological harm” to children under 12.

Attorney Rebecca Messall vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“If these pictures cause psychological harm and can be made the subject of an injunction, that opens the door to an end to our First Amendment protection,” Messall said. “It could be argued that a crucifix is too gory for children to view under age 12.”

Anti-abortion protester Ken Scott said he shows such graphic photos because they’re effective in swaying women against having an abortion.

“The reason that we have the signs is because when we’ve talked to women who’ve changed their mind, 50 percent say it’s because they saw the picture,” Scott told CBN News. “A picture’s worth a thousand words and it shows the truth.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

French Government Holds Firm on Gay Marriage

France’s Socialist government vowed to push on with its plans to legalise gay marriage on Monday, a day after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris calling for the bill to be scrapped.

Despite Sunday’s demonstration being considered one of the biggest in recent history with hundreds of thousands taking part, the French government insists it will not listen to those calling for it to bin the proposal.

Speaking to Europe 1 radio on Monday, the Minister of Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem reiterated the Socialists determination to legalise gay-marriage as well as open adoption to same-sex couples.

“The government is totally committed to achieving this historic reform, which will not represent a victory for one side or the other but progress for society as a whole,” she said.

Law should be discussed in parliament, not the street

The turn-out for Sunday’s march in Paris was estimated somewhere between 340,000 and 800,000 with demonstrators travelling from all over France to voice their anger at the government.

“We have taken note of the rally and I am very respectful towards people’s right to protest, which is a fundamental right in our country,” Vallaud-Belkacem said. “But I am respectful of the right that this reform should be discussed by parliament and not on the street.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Message to Teacher: Either Religious Items Go… Or You Do

It’s a question about common sense. When a high school has a gay and lesbian group and also has a Bible study group, why is it that the teacher involved with the Bible study group is the one coming under fire? But that’s exactly what’s happening at one school, where the teacher is being told to remove religious items from her classroom and not participate in the Bible study meetings or activities.

Yes, this story is for real, and it’s just another example of how anything goes in today’s high schools except Christianity, of course. As reported by WIVB Channel 4 in New York, a Cheektowaga high school science teacher is now fighting back with her own law suit.

Joelle Silver, a teacher at the school for seven years, says she received a “counseling letter” to remove the items from her classroom. The suit was filed against the district, President of the Board of Education Brian J. Gould, and Superintendent of Schools Dennis Kane.

The complaint filed by the AFLC claims other teachers and faculty at the school were not required to remove items of personal or religious speech. One of the arguments the document makes is in reference to a social worker at the school, who the complaint alleges, by contrast, is allowed to promote a “gay rights agenda.”

According to the report, all of this started when one student… ONE… complained. And, of course, the student didn’t go through the school system. Instead the student contacted the Freedom from Religion group, who is always willing to threaten legal action all in the effort to force God completely out of society.

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) has come to the aid of the teacher, Joelle Silver.

Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented, “This is one of the most egregious examples of religious hostility I have witnessed in a public school. Ms. Silver does not cease being a Christian nor does she shed her constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”

According to the “counseling letter,” which is now a permanent part of Silver’s employment file, failure to follow any of the directions would lead to “serious disciplinary consequences, including the termination of [her] employment.”

[Return to headlines]

The Progressive Global Sharing Economy

Another glaring example of a forced march towards communism in the name of social justice, social equity, environmental justice.

U.S. taxpayer, meet the newest liberal scheme to lighten your pocketbook of your hard-earned cash: the Global Sharing Economy. If you think this is not serious, consider the billions that you are already contributing to friends and foes across the globe in aid via United Nations and other myriad of nonprofits under the umbrella of our generous federal government.

This scheme is rather simple. You can tell how serious these progressives are by the length of their report, 170 pages. The London headquartered Share the World’s Resources (stwr.org) is advocating for an international program of emergency relief to prevent poverty.

We have already spent trillions of dollars in the war on poverty in the past fifty years and we are nowhere close to eradicating poverty. We lost this war long time ago as populations have become accustomed to welfare and a lifestyle of welfare dependency and entitlements without any incentive for meaningful work and contribution to society.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General

Child Trafficking on the Rise, UN Says

The UN Children’s Fund and Germany’s Federal Criminal Agency have released shocking figures. Offenders rake in billions of dollars with the purchase and sale of children, while authorities remain in the dark.

It’s always the same story: A lack of care and education lead to poverty and despair — hopeless situations that human traffickers worldwide take advantage of.

The force their victims into prostitution, force them to work and misuse them for illegal trade in organs. Experts estimate the number of victims to be in the millions. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its annual report that based on official data supplied by 132 countries, children and young people up to the age of 18 make up a large percentage of all human trafficking cases: 27 percent between 2007 and 2010. Of these, two-thirds were girls.

According to the study, the majority of child victims were found in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific. More than half were found to be forced into prostitution, about 36 percent into forced labor, while others toiled as beggars or maids.

The situation has been getting worse in countries that were part of the former Communist Bloc. Children who grow up in broken families are particularly vulnerable, Anne Lütkes of Unicef’s German branch said Thursday (10.01.2013) at a news conference in Berlin. Many children in Romania are not even registered, she added. “These children can simply disappear without anyone ever knowing they existed,” Lütkes said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20130113

Financial Crisis
» Italians’ Spending Power Plummets, -4.1% Compared to 2011
» Italy: ‘Part of the Left Suffocates Growth’, Claims Monti
» Merkel Shepherds us Away From the Fiscal Cliff
 
USA
» Blame for Gun Grab? Gun Owners Look in the Mirror
» NSA Documents on ‘PerfectCitizen’ Program Raise Many More Questions
» Obamacare is All About Death and Taxes
» The Big Picture on Gun Control
» Visionary Internet Activist Aaron Swartz Found Dead
» What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?
» Why Are We Pretending?
 
Europe and the EU
» 2013 in Science: Robot Eyes, Comets and Big Discoveries
» Adoptions of Foreign Children Fall 22.8% in Italy
» ‘Bloody Nora!’ Nigel Farage’s Shock at UKIP’s Europe Poll Lead Over Tories
» Flashback: ‘Something May Come Through’ Dimensional ‘Doors’ At LHC
» France: Mystery Biker Named as Prime Suspect After He Was Seen Near Alpine Layby Where Murdered British Family Was Found
» Irish Traveller Gang Linked to Audacious Norway Art Heist
» Italy: Grillo Repeats Won’t Join Forces or Stand for Premier
» Italy: Sports Watchdog: Soccer Federation Devise Antiracism Rules
» Italy: Monti Proposes 16-Mln-Euro Prisoner Work Program
» Italy: Generali Takes Full Control of Gph in Eastern Europe
» Italy: Berlusconi Believes His Party Will Win the Election
» Italy: South Tyrolian Party Joins Centre Left Alliance
» Italy: Party of Doctors to Run in Lazio Regional Elections
» Italy: Casini Calls Berlusconi a Clown
» Ivan Von Birchan Was Approached by CIA to Murder Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (Video Interview)
» Sweden: Woman Raped by Five Men in Stockholm
» Swedes Eat 70 Tonnes of Fake Beef
» UK: ‘Mosque Buster’ Claims He Can Stop ‘Tide of Islam’ By Giving Free Advice on How to Block Building Plans for New Places of Worship
» UK: Jimmy Savile Was Part of Satanic Ring
» UK: Maths Teacher Whose Wheelie Bin Protrudes Just 12 Inches Outside the Boundary of Her Home is Dragged to Court by Council for Causing a ‘Hazard’
» UK: Parliament to Unleash Barrage of Criticism on Snoopers’ Charter
» UK: Taxi Driver Cheated Blind Woman Out of £300 After She Asked for Help Using Her Cash Card to Pay for Fare
» UK: Widow Leaves £100,000 to Pet Charity — Then it Immediately Puts Down Her Loyal Dog Found Lying Beside Her Body
» We’d be Mad to Leave Europe: David Cameron’s Covert Battle Against the ‘Madness’ of Cutting Ties With EU
 
Mediterranean Union
» Ports: Italy EU Leader in Maritime Med Trade
 
North Africa
» French Aircraft Operating in Mali Granted Algeria Flyover
 
Middle East
» Saudi Criticises World Reaction to Maid’s Beheading
» Syria: Lavrov Believes Removing Assad From Power is “Impossible”
 
South Asia
» Indonesia: Further Implementation of Sharia in Aceh to Cause Greater Social Tensions
» Road-Side Bomb Kills 14 Pakistan Soldiers on Afghan Border
 
Far East
» Record Eur 1.34 Mln Paid for 224kg Bluefin Tuna in Japan
 
Australia — Pacific
» Racial Hatred Bill Offers Open Slather to Obnoxious
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Britain to Send Troops and Two Planes to Mali to Assist French Operation Against Islamist Rebels
» Mali Islamists Stronger Than Believed, Says France
» Nigerian Army Claims Capture of Boko Haram Commander
» South Africa Leads World in Rape Cases
 
Immigration
» Italy: Nìguri: Stories of Asylum Seekers in Migrants’ Centre
 
Culture Wars
» Four Gay Rights Activists Go Topless During Pope’s Angelus
» Italy Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Parental Custody

Financial Crisis

Italians’ Spending Power Plummets, -4.1% Compared to 2011

Worst year since WW2, according to retailers’ association

(ANSAmed) — Rome, January 9 — Istat said Wednesday that the spending power of households in recession-hit Italy plummeted last year while the nation’s retailers said 2012 is set to go down as the worst year since World War II for consumer spending.

The national statistics agency said Italians’ spending power fell by a massive 4.1% in the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. A factor is the tax increases that led to Italian disposable incomes being 1.9% lower in the third quarter of last year than in the same three months in 2011, Istat said. Spending power has also been eroded by drops in real incomes caused by inflation outstripping salary increases. Retailers’ association Confcommercio said its consumer spending index continued a downward trend in November, when it registered a 2.9% drop compared to the same month in 2011 and a 0.1% fall with respect to October. “It is clear that 2012 is set to be remembered as the most difficult year for consumer spending in the post-war period,” Confcommercio said. “The continuation of negative year-on-year results (in the index) in the final months of 2012 shows that the crisis is still very much present in the economic system…

“It is unlikely that our economy in general, and consumer spending in specific, will start to show signals of significant improvement in the short term”.

Austerity measures outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s government passed to put Italy on course to balance the national budget in structural terms this year and move the country away from the centre of the eurozone debt crisis are widely seen as having deepened a recession that started in 2011. Wednesday’s negative data will not boost Monti’s bid to stay at the helm of government after he opted to run in next month’s general elections on a reform platform backed by several centrist parties.

On Tuesday Istat said unemployment in Italy remained at a record high of November at 11.1%, while youth unemployment reached an unprecedented level of 37.1%. There was some positive news though. Istat said Wednesday that Italy’s public deficit fell to 3.7% with respect to gross domestic product in the first nine months of 2012, 0.5% lower than in the same period in 2011, thanks to government tax hikes. The national statistics added that the deficit-GDP ratio fell to 1.8% in the third quarter of 2012, 0.7% lower than in the same three months in 2011. Istat said the new and much-criticised IMU property tax, introduced by Monti’s emergency administration of unelected technocrats, was the driving force of the higher tax revenues that have brought down the deficit.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Part of the Left Suffocates Growth’, Claims Monti

(AGI) Rome — Outgoing prime minister Mario Monti claimed that part of the left is to blame for suffocating growth, saying that it is irresponsible and has pushed Italy towards a precipice .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Merkel Shepherds us Away From the Fiscal Cliff

NRC Handelsblad Rotterdam

The last minute negotiations in Washington to avoid a budget shortfall show that short-termism is well grounded in US politics. And by contrast, it shows that despite her controversial handling of the euro crisis, the German chancellor is wise enough to instead push for long-term solutions.

Melvyn Krauss

To hijack a phrase made famous by the US historian Robert Kagan, “Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus” when it comes to dealing with questions of long-term fiscal health.

The fact that the best Washington politicians could come up with in the face of the so-called “fiscal cliff” is a stripped-down, minimalist agreement belies a genuine US interest in solving its long-term budget deficit problem.

This is not mainly because of US partisan differences (though it often is portrayed as such). Americans of whatever political stripe simply are not serious about the nation’s long-term fiscal health.

How else could you interpret the fact that the only way Washington politicians could be coaxed into accepting an even modest amount of fiscal austerity in pursuit of long-term fiscal health was to convince them — with gimmicks like the “fiscal cliff” — that greater amounts of austerity awaited had they failed to take at least a minimal dose of fiscal medicine now?

Jumping off the fiscal cliff

If US President Barack Obama and Congress really cared about fixing the country’s budget deficit problem, they would have enthusiastically jumped off the “fiscal cliff” with its mandated spending cuts and tax increases, not endlessly haggled to circumvent it.

This is just the opposite of what is happening in Europe where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is leading the charge for short-term fiscal pain in pursuit of long-term fiscal gain. Keynesians and supply-siders both disagree but Mrs Merkel is sticking to her guns that Europe can not return to sustainable growth and prosperity without first putting its fiscal house in order — and she is creatively using German money to get the German rules she wants for Europe…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

USA

Blame for Gun Grab? Gun Owners Look in the Mirror

Once again, following yet another school massacre, the rabid dogs in the controlled media, NYC Mayor Fascist Michael Bloomberg and the usual vermin in the Outlaw Congress are pushing for something the global elite have wanted since this republic was founded: disarm everyone except police, military.

Those calling for their own destruction (think Pol Pot, Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin) are so mentally unstable, they can’t even comprehend their own stupidity:

“For 50 years, the left-leaning columnist Donald Kaul has raged against guns, but after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, he says, it’s time for “anger,” killing gun owners and dragging legislators who disagree with gun control behind pickup trucks until they get the message. The Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist penned an alarming screed published in the Des Moines Register in which he further suggested the Second Amendment be repealed and the National Rifle Association be declared a terrorist organization.”

Had I penned such a piece, the jack booted thugs at the Department of Fatherland Security who have sold their soul for a paycheck would have kicked down my door, probably shot my dogs and thrown me in some federal jail.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NSA Documents on ‘PerfectCitizen’ Program Raise Many More Questions

The National Security Agency releases documents about the program to help secure critical infrastructure, but significant redactions leave questions over whether the agency will monitor private networks. More than 30 months after the disclosure of a government program to help secure critical infrastructure, digital rights groups continue to have questions about whether the intent of the system is to monitor private networks. On Jan. 2 the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) published 190 pages of documents released by the National Security Agency under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The documents confirm key details of the program, known as PerfectCitizen, which was revealed by The Wall Street Journal in an article published in July 2010. The project, for example, includes a major effort to find and remediate vulnerabilities in sensitive control systems (SCS). Technology giant Raytheon received the contract for the program valued at approximately $100 million. Yet the redacted sections of the documents continue to raise questions. The NSA whited out key parts of three of the five technical requirements that set the scope of the program. In a list of the skills needed by specialized software engineers for PerfectCitizen, many of the descriptions requested by the NSA are similarly redacted.

“There is something going on here, and we need more information to confirm the extent of this program,” said Jeramie Scott, National Security Fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which filed the FOIA request for the documents. Scott did not specify what the missing sections may indicate, but said that the information is important for U.S. citizens to know.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obamacare is All About Death and Taxes

Prior to the November elections, I received an email that was chilling. It was about the new Obamacare rules. Before I discuss the Obamacare taxes that are kicking in this year and next, I want to share excerpts from it.

The email was from an individual whose son-in-law has a brother who is a surgeon at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. It is ranked high among American hospitals. This is what he related:

“A group of non-doctors, from ‘our’ country’s Department of Health arrived last week at Emory for a two day session and is on their rounds around the country to make sure every hospital fully understands the new rules (which start in December (after the elections) concerning treating all patients over 70 years of age.”

“This group informed the staff Emory and all the doctors present that they will very soon not be allowed to operate on anyone over 70 (no matter how urgent or life threatening the situation is), without first having it approved by a board of eight doctors. Failure to comply will result in a huge financial burden to the hospital and more than likely the doctor will lose his/her ability to practice medicine anywhere in the country.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Big Picture on Gun Control

C.S. Lewis, writing in his 1947 book The Abolition of Man, reminds us that there truly exists a phenomenon called natural law, or the Tao as Lewis calls it. Natural law has been recognized for as long as history has been written. To deny it takes the conscious effort of a normal human being. The idea of inalienable rights — the foundation upon which the United States Declaration of Independence was written — springs from natural law.

The individuals who have rebelled against the Tao have risen in the ranks of power. They constitute what has been called a pathocracy. These parasitic groups have formed in every civilization that has existed on earth. In the end, they wage war against the people of the host nation. This group feeds the evil side of humanity, and when it is expressed in all its horror it is used to further erode our liberties.

Within the field of political science is a study called political ponerology, the study of evil applied to politics. Every time a society falls into the hands of a brutal dictator, nearly identical patterns can be observed. Andrew M. Lobaczewski’s ground breaking 1998 book entitled Political Ponerology discusses in depth the nature of psychopaths and their exploits when in positions of power.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Visionary Internet Activist Aaron Swartz Found Dead

(NaturalNews) Adding to the list of mysterious deaths that have happened over the last few days, internet visionary and brilliant internet activist Aaron Swartz was found dead yesterday. Swartz, only 26 years old, was the co-founder of Reddit.com, the co-creator of RSS technology, and the key activist who achieved a stunning defeat of the freedom-crushing SOPA / PIPA bills in the U.S. Congress.

[…]

Swartz’s death is just one of many mysterious deaths that have recently taken place. Just a few days ago, a celebrated rifle manufacturer named John Noveske was killed in a mysterious car crash — not long after posting details of all the school shooters who were taking psychiatric drugs.

Another prominent internet technology pioneer committed “suicide” just over a year ago. Ilya Zhitomirskiy co-created Diaspora, the so-called ‘Facebook-killer’ technology that created a free, decentralized technology system that posed a severe threat to the data-mining monopoly of Facebook.

It has also been reported and confirmed that radio host Alex Jones was stalked by gun-toting goons while in New York to appear on CNN. They tried to force him into some sort of altercation, but he escaped by hailing a cab and fleeing the area.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?

The digital pioneer and visionary behind virtual reality has turned against the very culture he helped create.

I couldn’t help thinking of John Le Carré’s spy novels as I awaited my rendezvous with Jaron Lanier in a corner of the lobby of the stylish W Hotel just off Union Square in Manhattan. Le Carré’s espionage tales, such as The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, are haunted by the spectre of the mole, the defector, the double agent, who, from a position deep inside, turns against the ideology he once professed fealty to.

And so it is with Jaron Lanier and the ideology he helped create, Web 2.0 futurism, digital utopianism, which he now calls “digital Maoism,” indicting “internet intellectuals,” accusing giants like Facebook and Google of being “spy agencies.” Lanier was one of the creators of our current digital reality and now he wants to subvert the “hive mind,” as the web world’s been called, before it engulfs us all, destroys political discourse, economic stability, the dignity of personhood and leads to “social catastrophe.” Jaron Lanier is the spy who came in from the cold 2.0.

To understand what an important defector Lanier is, you have to know his dossier. As a pioneer and publicizer of virtual-reality technology (computer-simulated experiences) in the ‘80s, he became a Silicon Valley digital-guru rock star, later renowned for his giant bushel-basket-size headful of dreadlocks and Falstaffian belly, his obsession with exotic Asian musical instruments, and even a big-label recording contract for his modernist classical music. (As he later told me, he once “opened for Dylan.” )

The colorful, prodigy-like persona of Jaron Lanier—he was in his early 20s when he helped make virtual reality a reality—was born among a small circle of first-generation Silicon Valley utopians and artificial-intelligence visionaries.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Are We Pretending?

Why are we pretending? Pretending that elections in 2014 might change things, that elections in 2016 could too? Even now the Republicans and their talk show supporters are flailing about as if there is some future in electoral politics for them. They discuss strategy as if it mattered, not seeming to get that they have been marginalized. It is over. It is part of the plan.

The template for stealing elections in America at the national level has been set in the 2012 election. Given all the unvetted and demonstrable aberrations in this election, it has become crystal clear that the 2012 Presidential election was illegally determined and, by extension, so will every future election. Without addressing these issues the current president must be considered illegal and a usurper and every effort made to remove him from office.

[…]

There is an informative video [see below] created during WWII, directed by Frank Capra, to provide GIs with an understanding of why America was at war, why they were going to fight an enemy on foreign soil. The first episode, Prelude to War, examined, step by step the process by which each of the three Axis nations (Italy, Germany, Japan) rose to be a militaristic power, seeking world domination, each dominated by one man backed by a supporting gang. Each nation followed and ‘freely’ elected a leader. The steps taken by each of the Axis powers were almost identical to each other and remarkably similar to Obama’s tactics. Historically these tactics have been used for the 2,500 years of recorded Western history, WW II simply offers a clear, recent example.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

2013 in Science: Robot Eyes, Comets and Big Discoveries

2012 was a big year in science — but there’s going to be loads of interesting developments this year. We take a look at what we can expect from science in 2013.

The Large Hadron Collider is a 27km-long atom smasher that lies 100m below the ground on the border of Switzerland and France. It crashes proton beams into each other at three times more force than ever before.

2013 is a cliffhanger year. CERN, who run the Collider, has decided to turn it off in February for a couple of years. Just turning it off is kind of a big job, given that it’s a 27km-long circular machine buried 100m under the ground.

You should feel a bit nervous, though, if you’re one of those people who were a little concerned scientists might blow up the world with the machine.

The device is only being switched off just so it can can be super-charged. And then, in 2015, they might even be able to find out if there are other dimensions — with their own galaxies and people and news websites.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Adoptions of Foreign Children Fall 22.8% in Italy

3,106 minors from 55 countries adopted by Italian couples

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — The number of foreign children adopted by Italian couples fell 22.8% in 2012 compared to the previous year, the Italian government reported on Wednesday. Entry was granted for 3,106 minors from 55 countries in 2012, according to preliminary findings by the Italian government’s International Adoption Commission in collaboration with the Italian children’s rights organization Istituto degli Innocenti (Institute of the Innocents).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Bloody Nora!’ Nigel Farage’s Shock at UKIP’s Europe Poll Lead Over Tories

UKIP leader turns the air blue, says David Cameron is a fool and claims he would ‘do a deal’ with Labour’s Ed Miliband

The Sunday People has just told the UKIP leader about our poll which puts him ahead of the Tories.

“F****** hell,” he splutters through a mouthful of haddock.

“Bloody Nora,” he adds after a few moments reflection.

Our pollsters ComRes found 23 per cent of voters say they will back UKIP in next year’s European elections, a point ahead of the Tories while the Lib Dems trail on eight per cent.

With 18 months to go, that puts Farage on course for capturing a third of the vote at the elections which would increase his number of MEPs from 12 to more than 30 and could make UKIP the biggest UK group in the EU.

It is a far cry from six years ago when David Cameron dismissed UKIP as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” and most of the public agreed.

“Cameron is a fool,” Farage tells the Sunday People. “When he abuses us he doesn’t just abuse UKIP but most of his own voters.”

The PM needs an electoral pact with UKIP or he risks losing around 40 seats to Labour at the next General Election in 2015 as UKIP fields candidates in every seat to steal his voters.

But Farage isn’t optimistic. He says: “While that man is leader of the Conservatives I can’t see the prospect of a deal.”

Yet he could work with Education Secretary Michael Gove, or Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith were they to replace Cameron as leader.

Should he eventually pick up enough Westminster seats to join a coalition with Labour he could also do business with Ed Miliband. But he would have to promise a Europe referendum first.

And that is what Farage, 48, is trying to force David Cameron to do. The UKIP leader — who survived a plane crash on the day of the General Election in 2010 — revealed he is in talks with up to eight Tory MPs who may defect to him unless that pledge is forthcoming.

He says he will win the argument in the referendum to take Britain out of Europe. But our poll suggests voters are cooling on the idea of pulling out of the EU entirely. Just 33 per cent are now in favour of withdrawing — down four per cent on a poll 15 months ago.

Nigel Farage has become one of the most likeable politicians — though not everyone agrees.

We meet for fish and chips at the 13th-century Turf Tavern pub in Oxford, where landlord Alex Klojevic, 47 — from the former Yugoslavia — was not so pleased to see the UKIP leader.

“I don’t like that man,” he said. “He wants to throw foreigners out of this country.” Our photographer was even refused permission to take pictures until the pub’s parent company had given the go-ahead.

But Farage just shrugs and takes it in his stride. He says he will be always be himself, and happily smokes Rothmans cigarettes publicly — unlike Cameron and Nick Clegg — to show his political incorrectness, even defying a ban in his Brussels and Strasbourg offices.

The authorities threatened to fine him. “I told them they had better set up a standing order,” he jokes.

His tough line on immigration has been branded extreme, but he says it must be part of Britain’s economic recovery.

“Being part of the EU means Eastern Europeans have unlimited access to Britain. If they have skills we need that’s great. But it is wholly irresponsible to have an excess of unskilled labour when youth unemployment is 22 per cent. It means employers are happy to take on a Lithuanian rather than a Briton because it’s cheaper and easier.”

Farage’s strategy is to capture more seats in this year’s county council elections to build a firm base in local government. He will then try to consolidate in Europe next year.

He accepts the first-past-the-post voting system for General Elections is brutal to smaller parties, though Farage has no ambitions to be Prime Minister.

“There are two sorts of politician,” he adds. “Those who want to be something and those who want to do something.

“I’m the campaigning sort. And as I’m not going to win the 2015 General Election the question isn’t relevant. Even if it was, I still don’t think I would want the job.”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Flashback: ‘Something May Come Through’ Dimensional ‘Doors’ At LHC

A top boffin at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) says that the titanic machine may possibly create or discover previously unimagined scientific phenomena, or “unknown unknowns” — for instance “an extra dimension”.

“Out of this door might come something, or we might send something through it,” said Sergio Bertolucci, who is Director for Research and Scientific Computing at CERN, briefing reporters including the Reg at CERN HQ earlier this week.

The LHC, built inside a 27-km circular subterranean tunnel deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border outside Geneva, functions like a sort of orbital motorway for extremely high-speed hadrons — typically either protons or lead ions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: Mystery Biker Named as Prime Suspect After He Was Seen Near Alpine Layby Where Murdered British Family Was Found

A mystery motorcyclist seen around the Alpine beauty spot where four people were blasted to death is now the prime suspect for the murders, it emerged today.

The breakthrough in the baffling case came thanks to Brett Martin, a British cyclist who discovered the bodies close to Lake Annecy, in eastern France.

The 53-year-old ex RAF serviceman has told French police that he passed a motorbike driving away from the isolated lay-by where the slaughter took place on September 5th last year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Irish Traveller Gang Linked to Audacious Norway Art Heist

AN Irish Traveller gang has been linked to an audacious art theft from a museum in Norway last weekend.

Two thieves broke into the Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen early last Saturday morning and escaped with a valuable haul of Chinese artifacts.

The thieves were caught on security camera, wearing head-lights and using crowbars to smash the glass cases in which the treasures were displayed.

Norwegian police suspect the same gang of Irish Travellers who have already been linked by Europol to a string of robberies, money laundering, and counterfeit goods.

Gardai expect a formal request for Irish assistance from Norwegian police to follow, according to sources.

The gang is suspected of carrying out a string of robberies from small galleries and museums in provincial cities and towns across the UK and on the Continent. There have been robberies in Belgium, France and Germany.

Europol, the international police agency, issued a statement last year claiming that the gang operated as part of a criminal network that spanned America, Europe and China. The group, known as the Rathkeale Rovers, has been linked to the illegal trade in rhino horns which can fetch up to €200,000. They are believed to have stolen horns from a natural history museum in Brussels and from a collection in a small town in western France last year.

The Criminal Assets Bureau is investigating the finances of some of the principal gang members. However, many of them are resident abroad, beyond the reach of the bureau’s asset-seizing powers.

The haul of artifacts stolen from the museum in Bergen included Chinese “objets d’art” in jade, porcelain, bronze and paper.

A director of the museum, quoted in a local newspaper, said that the thieves were professional, knew what they were after, and were most likely hired to carry out the theft to order. Some of the pieces are more than 4,000 years old.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Italy: Grillo Repeats Won’t Join Forces or Stand for Premier

‘System is rotten,’ Five Star Movement leader says

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo reiterated Friday he would not join forces with anyone after next month’s general election and would not bid for the premiership.

“We won’t be part of this rotten system,” said the 61-year-old leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) at a rally outside the interior ministry in Rome.

Grillo has slipped from second to fourth in the election race amid claims of an autocratic leadership style.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Sports Watchdog: Soccer Federation Devise Antiracism Rules

Referees could request halt to matches due to fan intolerance

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — A specially designated public-order officer will be given the authority to halt soccer games in cases of racism and other forms of fan intolerance, Italy’s sports governing body said Wednesday.

It set out new rules governing how it will handle incidents such as a match last week when AC Milan soccer players walked off the field amid racist chants during an exhibition game with fourth-division club Pro Patria.

The sports governing body met Wednesday with Antonello Valentini, director of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and unanimously approved the new protocol.

In the future, referees will need to contact the designated public-order officer, who can then decide how to handle the incident.

Options will include suspending the match temporarily, with warnings to misbehaving fans over the public address system; or definitively suspending the game.

The Football Federation is expected to distribute information and training on the new protocol.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Proposes 16-Mln-Euro Prisoner Work Program

Measure responds to prison overcrowding

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti on Friday proposed a measure allocating 16 million euros for prisoner work programs that should relieve overcrowding in Italian prisons.

“We need structural reforms to solve the issue of prison overcrowding, which has recently been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg,” Monti said in a note, pointing to the government’s December 2011 decree making house arrest an option for prisoners serving their last 18 months.

A bill on alternatives to incarceration has yet to be passed, he said. “Meanwhile, we must give prisoners some hope, because several studies show the rate of repeat offences is significantly lowered when they have been given alternative measures or been allowed to work,” the premier said.

Justice Minister Paola Severino and Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli submitted the measure, which is to be financed under the so-called Stability Law, according to the note.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Generali Takes Full Control of Gph in Eastern Europe

Insurer also to get stake in Russian Ingosstrakh in equity swap

(ANSA) — Milan, January 8 — Italy-based global insurance and financial products company Generali said Tuesday it had reached a deal to purchase the remaining stake in General PPF Holding (GPH) to take full ownership and management control of one of the largest insurers in the Central and East European market.

Generali is to buy the 49% of share capital in GPH currently held by PPF Group for just over 2.5 billion euros, the company said in a statement.

The transaction is to be made in two stages, with 25% of the shares being acquired by March 28 and the remaining 24% by the end of 2014. The deal includes a no-cash equity swap, with Generali acquiring from PPF Investments its stake in PPF Beta, which indirectly holds a 38.46% interest in the Russian insurer Ingosstrakh and PPF Group acquiring the 27.5% interest held by the Generali Group in the PPF Partners fund manager, run by PPF, and the PPF Partners 1 Fund L.P. shares held by the Generali Group.

“This transaction eliminates all uncertainty over our development strategy in Central and Eastern Europe and the resources required from the Group to put it in place,” said Generali Group CEO Mario Greco.

“Today we are one of the leading players in a high-growth area. With full control of GPH, we shall be able to take full advantage of our investment and focus on developing our core insurance business while improving competitiveness and profitability”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Believes His Party Will Win the Election

(AGI) Rome, Jan 12 — Silvio Berlusconi has told a ‘Studio Aperto’ broadcast that he believes his centre left People of Liberty (PDL) party is in line to win the upcoming election.

“We defied predictions in both 1994 and 2006. We were 7 points behind prior to the televised debates anchored by Bruno Vespa and Michele Santoro. It’s not an insurmountable gap. We are convinced we will win,” he said.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy: South Tyrolian Party Joins Centre Left Alliance

(AGI) Rome, Jan 12 — Italy’s Centre Left has revealed that the coalition will consist of the centre left Democratic Party (PD), the leftist Left, Ecology and Freedom Party (SEL), the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), the regionalist catch-all South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP), the Centre Democrats (CD), the democratic Lista Crocetta and the centre left Moderati. Luigi Bersani is to spearhead the coalition. The party representatives are lodging the necessary papers with the Ministry of the Interior. The fact that the SVP is part of the coalition behind Bersani is of significance, particularly in view of the seven available senators from the Trentino Alto Adige region.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy: Party of Doctors to Run in Lazio Regional Elections

(AGI) — Rome, Jan 13 — A well-known doctor, Severino Antinori, will be a presidential candidate for the Lazio region leading the Moti Democratici (democratic movements) party composed almost entirely of doctors. Antinori, who presented his party at the interior ministry for the upcoming elections, said, “My party will be 90 percent doctors. Our slogan is ‘get politicians out of healthcare and out of the health of our citizens’. We’re aiming for a healthcare revolution.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy: Casini Calls Berlusconi a Clown

(AGI) Rome — Speaking about Berlusconi, Casini said: “Berlusconi is a clown and I’m his obsession” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Ivan Von Birchan Was Approached by CIA to Murder Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme (Video Interview)

The CIA offered Ivan two million U.S dollars cash, in early 1986, to murder Swedens prime minister Olof Palme. With Ivan’s background in the military and as a contractor in Lybia, South Rhodesia, they thought that Ivan was the perfect man for the job.

But he said “thanks, but no thanks” and went to the Swedish secret police SÄPO (säkerhetspolisen) and told that Palme’s life was in danger. They didn’t listen or want to do anything about it, so Ivan later went to people in Palme’s cabinet to warn them. Inger Bövner was one of them. Bövner has later also confirmed that Ivan had warned her prior to the murder of the prime minister.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Woman Raped by Five Men in Stockholm

Police are searching for five men who attacked and raped a young woman near the Sundbyberg train station in Stockholm in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The attack occurred at 4am on Sunday.

It was around minus 10 degrees Celsius outside and the woman, who is in her twenties, was walking home from the train station in Sundbyberg, a northern Stockholm suburb.

According to the police, five men attacked the woman from behind in the intersection of the Tulegatan and Fredsgatan streets.

She was then raped on the footpath.

“All five men were involved but it is not yet clear whether they all abused her sexually,” Stefan Larsson of the Stockholm police told news agency TT.

The Aftonbladet newspaper reports that the attack lasted for one hour.

When the men ran away from the rape scene, the woman managed to call a friend who in turn called the police.

The police only have vague descriptions of the men and said they are “more likely to be in their twenties than in their forties”.

“We have some leads and are working on collecting footage from surveillance cameras,” Larsson said on Sunday afternoon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedes Eat 70 Tonnes of Fake Beef

Nearly 70 out of the 100 tonnes of pork fillets that were dyed and labelled as beef tenderloin have ended up in Swedes’ stomachs.

The fake beef was imported to Sweden over a two-year-period and sold in grocery stores, regional newspaper Nya Werlmands Tidningen (NWT) reports.

It was Tomas Narving of food wholesaler Svensk Cater who first discovered the scam.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Mosque Buster’ Claims He Can Stop ‘Tide of Islam’ By Giving Free Advice on How to Block Building Plans for New Places of Worship

Gavin Boby, once linked to EDL, calls for people to come to him for help

A planning lawyer and self-styled ‘mosque buster’ claims he is fighting to stop the ‘tide of Islam’ by successfully blocking plans for the building of mosques across the UK.

Gavin Boby, once linked to the far-right English Defence League, boasts he has already blocked plans for 16 out of 17 mosques being built.

Under the banner of the Law and Freedom Foundation, he calls for people to come to him for free professional legal help in opposing mosque proposals and claims that Islam encourages paedophilia, sexual abuse and pimping.

He claims to help followers resist planing applications for mosque developments by raising opposition with councils.

The 48-year-old says in a video posted online: ‘If anyone out there knows of an application for a new mosque, a cultural centre for some phoney community centre or some multi-faith inter-faith harmony institute then let me know.’

Mr Boby, from Bristol, runs a planning consultancy but also provides legal assistant for those who oppose mosque developments, according to the Sunday Times.

On the foundation website he claims to have stopped the construction of 16 out of 17 mosques in total.

These include mosques in York, Blackpool, Bolton, Ealing and one in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, which was to replace ‘the beautiful old Jolly Sailor Pub’, according to the site.

Mr Boby reportedly launched the service with a mock-up of the Ghostbusters logo — swapped for Mosquebusters — in which the ghost was replaced by hate preacher Abu Hamza.

Vacancies for volunteers were posted on the EDL website.

In the website’s ‘about section’ it explains the three threats to the survival of state authority in Britain and Europe.

The third, it reads, is : ‘Ethnic division, particularly between Islamic and non-Islamic society, and the violence at the heart of Islamic doctrine. This is the most visible problem, and the one that people will blame.

‘Political and intellectual elites are undermining law or freedom. So we need to take what action we can to preserve them ourselves.’

Mr Boby has written an online guide that show how local citizens can make a legal case against mosques.

In the guide it reads: ‘Let councils know that they’re on the hook for their decisions. Be relentless. Push.’

He also suggests opposing an Islamic centre on the grounds of ‘parking congestion’, ‘disturbance’ and ‘community relations’.

His advice is rooted in legal arguments, as he continues to suggest emphasising the proposed project will ‘cause unacceptable pollution’ from traffic and is a hazard to schoolchildren as it will ‘bring outsiders with no connection to the area’.

He appears to be driven by an apparent ideological hatred of Islam, referring in a video posted on YouTube to recent sex abuse cases, and claims mosques are ‘not like churches’ and are instead used to instruct followers to commit acts of paedophilia, sexual abuse and pimping.

He says: ‘Islamic doctrine permits, encourages and to a certain extent mandates Muslim men to take non-Muslim women as slaves to be used for sex.

‘In order to stop the Islamic doctrine, which is the root of this problem, you have to prevent further mosques from being built.’

Councils contacted by the Sunday Times said Mr Boby had not been instrumental in blocking the development of local mosques.

Mr Boby has not been available for comment.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: Jimmy Savile Was Part of Satanic Ring

JIMMY SAVILE beat and raped a 12-year-old girl during a secret satanic ritual in a hospital.

The perverted star wore a hooded robe and mask as he abused the terrifi ed victim in a candle-lit basement.

He also chanted “Hail Satan” in Latin as other paedophile devil worshippers joined in and assaulted the girl at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. The attack, which happened in 1975, shines a sinister new light on the former DJ’s 54-year reign of terror.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Maths Teacher Whose Wheelie Bin Protrudes Just 12 Inches Outside the Boundary of Her Home is Dragged to Court by Council for Causing a ‘Hazard’

A teacher has been summoned to court and faces a £1,000 fine because her wheelie bin juts out just 12 inches beyond the boundary of her home.

Alex Young, 47, is to appear at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court after her local council said the grey plastic bin could present a hazard to drivers and disabled people.

It said the bin could prevent grass from being cut — even though there is not a patch of green in sight around the rear of her three-bedroom home.

Ms Young was also told that the bin’s appearance could ‘negatively impact on the street scene environment’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Parliament to Unleash Barrage of Criticism on Snoopers’ Charter

The joint parliamentary committee scrutinising the government’s Communications Data Bill — universally dubbed the “Snoopers’ Charter” — is set to slate the draft law in its official report published tomorrow.

Most of the committee members felt the Home Office had failed to make a convincing case for the scale of requested powers required to monitor British citizens’ activities online, The Register has learnt. Home Secretary Theresa May said the proposed surveillance law would “save lives” and help cops catch more paedophiles and terrorists.

[…]

The report will be another setback for the Home Secretary: in 2010 the former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald was asked to review her plan to monitor citizens online. He previously called the project to mine the UK internet:

“A paranoid fantasy which would destroy everything that makes living worthwhile. This database would be an unimaginable hellhouse of personal private information. It would be a complete readout of every citizen’s life in the most intimate and demeaning detail.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Taxi Driver Cheated Blind Woman Out of £300 After She Asked for Help Using Her Cash Card to Pay for Fare

A callous taxi driver stole £300 from a blind woman after she asked him to help get money from a cash machine to pay the fare.

Shafak Hussain, 36, had picked Jill Holland, 52, up from Manchester Royal Infirmary and was taking her back to her home in Oldham when she asked to stop at a cashpoint.

When she asked him to key in £30 Hussain pressed £300 instead — giving Mrs Holland only the money she asked for and pocketing the rest, a court heard.

Dominic Geelan, prosecuting, said: ‘When arrested he was uncooperative and aggressive and accused the police of being racist.’

The court heard that following the offence, on August 5, Hussain had been shunned by colleagues at Motown cars who were disgusted by his actions. He has since had his licence revoked.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Widow Leaves £100,000 to Pet Charity — Then it Immediately Puts Down Her Loyal Dog Found Lying Beside Her Body

When widow Lynda Hill drew up her will, she left £100,000 to her favourite animal charity and expressed a hope that its staff would find a new home for her faithful dog, Henry.

But just hours after Mrs Hill’s body was discovered in her home, a vet from the charity recommended that the golden retriever be put down, and he was destroyed the following day.

Friends of Mrs Hill say she would have been ‘devastated’ by the actions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

We’d be Mad to Leave Europe: David Cameron’s Covert Battle Against the ‘Madness’ of Cutting Ties With EU

David Cameron thinks it would be ‘mad’ for Britain to leave the EU and is secretly backing a move by Tory MPs to warn of the perils of cutting all our ties with Brussels.

The Prime Minister was also ‘pleased’ at US President Barack Obama sending a clear signal that the White House is opposed to the UK leaving the European Union.

The disclosures signal a key softening in tone in Mr Cameron’s rhetoric on Europe, and come a week ahead of his keynote speech on plans for an EU referendum after the next Election.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Ports: Italy EU Leader in Maritime Med Trade

But loses ground on deep sea shipping

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JANUARY 7 — Italy is the leading EU country in terms of trade with the Mediterranean, but has lost ground to south-eastern ports in terms of maritime transport over the past five years, according to a biannual newsletter published jointly by Italian ports association Assoporti and the Southern Research Center (SRM), a think tank funded by Intesa Sanpaolo bank. Italy leads in the EU, posting trading volume of goods worth 57.7 billion euros with Mediterranean countries, 70.4% of them transported via sea shipping, according to the ‘Ports and Mediterranean’ newsletter. Italy is also the EU leader in Mediterranean Short Sea Shipping, moving 223.2 million tons of goods, or 39.2% of goods transported from Europe in this way. In 2011, overall volume of goods moved via short sea shipping was 570 million tons (+0.6% over the previous year), thanks in part to economic growth in southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, the newsletter showed.

Italy’s sea trade totals 242 billion euros, 17% of which is exchanged with Mediterranean countries. As of August 2012, Italy’s largest sea trading volume was with Libya (8.3 billion euros, or 35% of all EU trade with that country), followed by Turkey (7.6 billion euros, or 21% of all EU trade) and Tunisia (3.5 billion euros, or 32% of all EU trade).

The newsletter data also showed there was an increase in shipping through the Suez Canal, with fewer but bigger ships bringing more volume of goods into the Mediterranean. Also in 2011, world commercial sea shipping rose by 4% to a record 8.7 billion tons, while the number of ships rose by 10%.

This pushed charter rates lower as operation costs rose and sector profits fell.

Between 2001-2011, the Italian shipowners invested 37 billion euros in fleet upgrades. The Italian commercial fleet is now the fourth largest in the EU and 14th worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

French Aircraft Operating in Mali Granted Algeria Flyover

(AGI) — Paris, Jan 13 — The Algerian government has granted the French air force permission to fly through domestic airspace.

Algiers’ decision allows French strike aircraft — now running into day 3 of northern Mali raids — to cut strike turnaround times. The Algerian government’s concession was announced on Sunday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Saudi Criticises World Reaction to Maid’s Beheading

AFP — Saudi Arabia on Sunday criticised world reaction to its beheading a Sri Lankan maid convicted of killing her employer’s baby, the official SPA news agency reported.

Riyadh “deplores the statements made… over the execution of a Sri Lankan maid who had plotted and killed an infant by suffocating him to death, one week after she arrived in the kingdom,” the government spokesman said.

Rizana Nafeek was beheaded on Wednesday in a case that sparked widespread international condemnation, including from rights groups which said she was just 17 when she was charged with murdering the baby in 2005.

Nafeek was found guilty of smothering the infant after an argument with the child’s mother.

The case soured diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka which on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia in protest.

The government spokesman condemned what he called “wrong information on the case,” and denied that the maid was a minor when she committed the crime.

“As per her passport, she was 21 years old when she committed the crime,” he said, adding that “the kingdom does not allow minors to be brought as workers.”

He said the authorities had tried hard to convince the baby’s family to accept “blood money,” but they rejected any amnesty and insisted that the maid be executed.

Saudi Arabia “respects… all rules and laws and protects the rights of its people and residents, and completely rejects any intervention in its affairs and judicial verdicts, whatever the excuse,” the spokesman said.

The UN’s human rights body on Friday expressed “deep dismay” at the beheading, and the European Union said it had asked the Saudi authorities to commute the death penalty.

Human Rights Watch said Nafeek had retracted “a confession” that she said was made under duress. She said the baby accidentally choked to death while drinking from a bottle.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.

Last year the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures, while HRW put the number at 69.

So far this year, three people have been executed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria: Lavrov Believes Removing Assad From Power is “Impossible”

(AGI) Moscow, Jan 13 — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he believes removing Bashar Assad from power will prove “impossible” thereby rejecting the West’s plans for a transition government..”This precondition was not included in the Geneva agreements,” said Lavrov, “and it is impossible to implement since it does not depend on anyone.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Further Implementation of Sharia in Aceh to Cause Greater Social Tensions

Many fear a split between fundamentalist and moderate Muslims. Political expediency and poor governance are the driving force behind the province’s islamisation. Critics slam the province’s morality police for its crackdown on deviant behaviour. In 2012, 50 cases of Sharia-related violence were recorded.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Increasingly, Sharia will be enforced ever more forcefully in Aceh province, the only jurisdiction in Indonesia (the world’s most populous Muslim nation) where Islamic law is in place, this according to experts and representatives of civil society groups, informed by recent reports by independent bodies and statements by the province’s new governor Zaini Abdullah, who is more inflexible than his predecessor Irwandy Jusuf,

After spending many years in exile in Sweden, Abdullah made the introduction of Sharia a key element in his election campaign. The imposition of Islamic law was also one of the main demands made by the separatist movement to end its war with the central government.

Some of the measures of Islamisation of the province include a ban on women straddling two-wheeled vehicles in the District of Lhokseumawe and a dress code that bars women from wearing jeans and miniskirts.

Some experts warn that this trend might lead to a divided society with a widening gap between moderate Muslims and fundamentalist groups, backed by local administrators interested in “power games”. In fact, many moral and related controversies are only attempts to cover up incompetence and poor governance and distract public opinion from the real economic and social problems.

Speaking to AsiaNews, anthropologist Teuku Kemal Fasya, who teaches at the Malikussaleh University in Lhokseumawe, said that enforcing Sharia is fraught with dangers and could lead to further violence.

For the scholar, who is involved in inter-faith dialogue, a disparity is emerging between the way Islamic law is being enforced and the importance people give to it in everyday life.

Many Acehnese object to the way ‘cultural identity’ is being manipulated and turned into a ‘political icon’. This could lead to abuses in the future.

“People are happy to see women wear the veil (jilbad) in public, but they resent the morality police’s heavy handedness,” he explained.

There is also some exasperation with the way the rules are unfairly imposed in matters of morality and behaviour, especially when the women involved are poor and living on the margins of society. Too often, suspected offenders are subjected to corporal punishment “without a trial or legal representation”.

Students at Qur’anic schools and middle class people without adequate religious training are the most favourable to a total application of Sharia.

In addition to the physical violence, verbal abuse and threats of violence are up. Attacks against people who oppose Aceh’s cultural traits are also rising, Prof Teuku said.

Destika Gilang Lestari, a provincial coordinator with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), agrees. In 2012, she said, there were 50 Sharia-related cases of violence, up from 47 in 2011.

On moral issues, tolerance of violence remains strong in Aceh. “There were 16 cases in which people accused of unlawful sexual relations were assaulted,” she noted, mostly by “mobs of local residents who had reportedly caught the couples engaged in sex acts,” which under Sharia “are unlawful”.

Members of the Wilayatul Hisbah are among the worst perpetrators of violence. When it comes to women riding motorcycles, these self-styled guardians of Islamic law show no mercy.

Kontras recorded 23 cases of violence related to illegal sex acts, 11 cases during Wilayatul Hisbah raids and six cases of caning of Sharia offenders.

“What is certain,” Destika Gilang Lestari said, “is that the acts of violence related to Sharia will increase.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Road-Side Bomb Kills 14 Pakistan Soldiers on Afghan Border

(AGI) — Miranshah, Jan 13 — Taliban guerrillas killed 14 Pakistani soldiers and injured 25 others when a road-side bomb hit a military convoy at Dosali, in North Waziristan on the Afghan border, army sources report. The wounded soldiers were in the following vehicle. The area is considered a Taliban stronghold.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Far East

Record Eur 1.34 Mln Paid for 224kg Bluefin Tuna in Japan

(AGI) — Tokyo, Jan 5 — The record sum of 155.4 million yen (1.34 MLN euros) has been paid for a 224 kilo specimen of the increasingly rare bluefin tuna. The sum is three times the previous record, set by the same legendary Tokyo fish market, Tsukiji. The Japanese, lovers of raw fish for sushi, take 80 percent of the global bluefin tuna catch every year, the population of which dropped 60 percent between 1997 and 2007.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Racial Hatred Bill Offers Open Slather to Obnoxious

by Paul Sheehan

‘Vermin n.1.noxious, troublesome, or objectionable animals collectively, especially troublesome or disgusting insects …3. obnoxious persons collectively.’

Several years ago I wrote a book about vermin, the kind defined by the third meaning in the Macquarie Concise Dictionary. Researching the book required me to sit in courts for months and go out and interview dozens of people. The heroine of the book was a teenager named Tegan Wagner who had been gang-raped by a group of young Muslim men. She came from the Shire and as her case was nearing an end, and I was nearing completion of Girls Like You, the notorious Cronulla riot took place.

It was December 11, 2005. Wagner was there. “When I heard about it, I wanted to go,” she told me at the time.

“I’m a Shire girl. I’ve been going to Cronulla for years. I’d seen first-hand how people get treated, not by the local Lebanese, but by the Lebanese Muslims that come in from places like Bankstown and Riverwood. They treat our beaches like a sleazy nightclub. They treat young women like garbage. And as soon as you say anything, they are on their mobile phones, to 50 of their closest friends, and their mates come down and outnumber people. If it’s guys, they will beat them up. If it’s girls, they will terrorise them.”

Advertisement After the riot, and the following violent rampage by Muslim men in convoys of cars, I interviewed dozens of people from the Shire and they all gave me variations of what a teacher at Cronulla High School told me: “It’s so disturbing that the images [of the riot] distributed around Australia and the world never mentioned the beatings, the provocations, the filth. They were not even discussed.

“Every girl I know has either been harassed or knows someone who’s been harassed. It’s not just young girls. I’ve been followed on numerous occasions. It’s just constant harassment. The word ‘slut’ gets used all the time.”

None of this was aired at the time. The media’s story had one theme, the Shire’s white racism. A deafening silence about the real cause of the tension came from the feminists, much the same people now so indignant about white male misogyny.

Seven years later, nothing has changed. Now Fairfax Media is supporting the complaint by the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, that nobody is being jailed for hate speech, which means the anti-discrimination laws should be toughened. The prime example used by Fairfax Media in its coverage was Alan Jones.

In the week before the Cronulla riot, Jones described the young Muslim men who for years had been sexually harassing women on the beach as “vermin” and “mongrels” who “rape and pillage”. That was the context of his comments, a context which dropped away entirely as a prosecution for hate speech by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal dragged on for seven years. No mention was made in Sunday’s news reports of the far more sinister and contemporaneous example of public hate speech on September 15 last year…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Britain to Send Troops and Two Planes to Mali to Assist French Operation Against Islamist Rebels

Britain will assist France in its attempt to stop the advancement of al-Qaeda rebels in Mali, it has been revealed.

The UK will transport troops and specialist equipment to the West African country after France launched an operation in conjunction with the Malian Government to halt Islamic extremists.

Assistance was agreed in a phone call between David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.

The Prime Minister earlier expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the advancement of rebels in the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mali Islamists Stronger Than Believed, Says France

(AGI) Paris — The French government says the Islamic militants in Mali are better equipped and trained than previously supposed.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Nigerian Army Claims Capture of Boko Haram Commander

(AGI) Kano, Jan 13 — The Nigerian armed forces claim to have captured Mohammed Zangini, one of the leaders of Boko Haram.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

South Africa Leads World in Rape Cases

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is often called the “rape capital of the world,” and it is estimated that more than 70 percent of women have experienced sexual abuse. On Tuesday, five men attacked and gang-raped a young woman in the capital, Pretoria. In the shadow of a similar attack in India that mobilized millions to protest, activists in Johannesburg say they do not understand why more South Africans are not outraged.

Police say the young woman was waiting overnight Tuesday in line to register at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Five men dragged her into the bushes, raped her and stole her phone and money. Police say no suspect has been been arrested.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Italy: Nìguri: Stories of Asylum Seekers in Migrants’ Centre

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY — Between the African coasts, orange-picking in Rosarno and organised crime, there is S. Anna, a town with a few hundred inhabitants in the Crotone province.

It is here that Italy’s largest centre for asylum seekers is located, and it is also the birthplace of Antonio Martino, the director of “Nìguri”, a documentary on the conflict between migrants and residents which was screened today in Rome as part of the Doc Africa-Italia film festival. “Three years ago,” Martino told ANSAmed, “I wanted to make a film in Libya on immigration. In the end, though, I changed my mind: daily phone calls from my mother telling me about the explosive situation in S. Anna convinced me to film there instead.” The centre for migrants has a total of 1,500 places available, most of which are reserved for asylum seekers waiting to go before a commission which will decide whether or not they have the right to be considered refugees.

“Until 2007,” Martino said, “the camp was closed, a sort of lager. The problems began when the migrants were allowed to spend the days outside. S. Anna’s inhabitants suddenly, unexpectedly, came face to face with globalisation, through the faces of these people. They were in no way prepared or assisted in the discovery of this different reality. Until two years ago there wasn’t even internet in S. Anna.” The emergency situation has two sides to it. One is the unease felt by the residents, while the other is the vulnerability of the migrants, especially women (but not only).

“In the streets of S. Anna, where sex has always been a taboo, you can easily run into half-naked Nigerians who sell their bodies. This is a violation of behavioral codes that the town’s citizens are not comfortable with at all.” What’s more, “an asylum seeker who does not meet the commission’s requirements becomes an unskilled worker for organised crime groups or ends up picking oranges in Rosarno or tomatoes in Puglia.” This is another source of friction with the local population. “Immigrants lower labour costs drastically. And Italian workers end up having to adapt to the new standards as well. In Calabria it doesn’t take much to recruit agricultural workers illegally for very low wages…”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Four Gay Rights Activists Go Topless During Pope’s Angelus

(AGI) Vatican City, Jan 13 — Four Ukrainian activists went topless during the Pope’s Angelus to raise awareness for gay rights.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Parental Custody

‘Courts don’t know what’s best for child’ say Catholic bishops

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Italy’s supreme Court of Cassation ruled on Friday that there is no reason why gay people cannot have custody of children, eliciting reactions from across the political spectrum.

“This is a historic ruling, giving the future government a formidable assist to finally legislate in favor of same-sex marriage and full equality for all families,” said Italian gay and lesbian association Arcigay President Flavio Romani. “The Cassation Court today reaffirmed what we’ve been saying for a long time. Love is what makes children grow, and not the sexual orientation of their parents”.

Former Veneto governor and minister Giancarlo Galan, who is from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, hailed the ruling as “a significant step forward for civil rights in our country. I hope political rhetoric will not take a step back. The duty of a secular state is to listen to its citizens and no one else”.

Democratic Party (PD) Senator Ignazio Marino concurred. “We should stop looking at such important matters as civil rights through a 19th-century lens,” he said. “I believe people who love one another should have the same rights, no matter their sexual orientation. The ability to raise a child is not the exclusive prerogative of heterosexual couples. This has been scientifically confirmed”.

Members of the Catholic Church did not support the ruling. “You can’t build a civilization through court rulings,” Father Domenico Sigalini, a member of the influential Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), told ANSA. “If most people have the sense to object to adoptions by gay couples, it’s because they know intuitively that the child will have difficulties in a family made up of two parents who are both women or both men. It is not up to a court of law to say what the best situation is for a child”. “Clearly the magistrates are anticipating the next Bersani government’s agenda,” commented Northern League MP Massimo Polledri, an avowed Catholic, adding that while there is no scientific evidence that gay parents make good parents, “nature and 200 years of psychoanalysis tell us that the correct upbringing of the individual happens by having different-gendered parents”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20130112

Financial Crisis
» Italians Lowering Food Standards as Recession Bites
» Italy: Berlusconi Proposes Employer Tax Exemptions on Young Hires
» Moody’s Knocks Cyprus Credit to Junk Status
» One of the Biggest and Most Elaborate Falsehoods Ever Sold to the American Public (The Bank Bailouts)
» The Federal Government Hands Out Money to 128 Million Americans Every Month
 
USA
» 18 Facts That Prove That Piers Morgan is Flat Out Lying About Gun Control
» Andrew P. Napolitano: The Right to Shoot Tyrants, Not Deer
» Brady Campaign Targets Gun Shows
» Democrat Bolshevism
» DHS Source Confirms Alex Was Being Stalked
» Fairbanks Militia Leader Sentenced to 26 Years in Prison, Apologizes
» How to End the “Gun Debate” Forever
» Illinois Government Wants Gold Registration
» Indiana Bill Would Make the Implementation of “Obamacare” A Felony
» Instagram Loses Nearly Half Its Daily Users in a Month After Backlash Over Failed Bid to Win Right to Sell Users’ Photos to Advertisers
» Judge Okays Group Prayers for Muslim Inmates in Indiana
» Liberals and Hollywood Liberate Satanist Murderers of Children
» Obama Says U. S. Close to Eliminating Al Qaeda
» Obama Executive Orders on Guns Would Spark Mass Resistance
» Patients and Physician Practice Under Obamacare
» Pennsylvania State Police Launch New App to Help Fight Terrorism
» Porn Companies Sue to Overturn Los Angeles Condom Law
» Psychiatric Drugs: The Giant, Gaping Hole in Sandy Hook Reporting
» Utah Town Makes Arming Every Household a Top Priority
» When Only Tyrants Have Guns
» Where Does the Hatred of Constitutionalism Come From?
» White House is Wrong: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Piers Morgan From Deportation
» Why Are Rice Cookers and Fridges Fitted With Internet Connections and Android OS?
» Why You Are Powerless Against the Government
» Wyoming Bill Would Nullify Obama Gun Control, Jail Feds
 
Europe and the EU
» Algeria Winning in War Against Illiteracy
» Brent Police: UK — The Top 20 Most Wanted
» Depardieu Reiterates He Remains a Frenchman
» EU Court Opens Hearings Into Genoa G8 Brutality
» Italian House Prices See Third Straight Fall
» Italian Researchers Identify Cholesterol-Fighting Cheese
» Italy: Soccer: Pro Patria Get Stadium Ban for Racist Fans
» Italy: Monti Approval Rating -8% After Entering Election Race
» Italy: Centre-Left Coalition Retains Lead, Opinion Poll
» Italy: Priapus Statue ‘A Bit of Fun’, Says Pianist at Ruby Trial
» Italy: Berlusconi Aide Was ‘Mafia’s Ambassador’ in Party — Ingroia
» Italy: Berlusconi Feels ‘Anti-Political’, ‘Anointed by the People’
» Italy: Rubbish Emergency in Calabria Shows No Sign of Abating
» Italy: Lazio Region Appeals to High Court to Save Rubbish Plan
» Larry Pratt: British Gun Crime Stats Are a “Sham”
» Scotland: Dundee Businessman Jailed for Multimillion Pound VAT Fraud
» UK: Drug Dealer Used Unemployment Benefits to Make 24,000 Mobile Phone Calls to Sell Heroin and Crack
» UK: Jimmy Savile Spent ‘Every Waking Minute’ Thinking About Abusing Boys and Girls
» UK: Police Report Into Savile Reveals 60 Years of Abuse, 34 Raped, Up to 450 Sexually Assaulted
» UK: Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party Are Split Over Handling of Rape Allegation
» UK: SWP’s Tom Walker: Why I Am Resigning
» Why Depardieu: The Rich and the Poor Flee France and Hollande
 
Mediterranean Union
» Rome Tripoli’s Top Trade Partner, Wants Security
 
North Africa
» Tunisia: Pilgrimages: Strong Arm Cabinet-Travel Agencies
 
Middle East
» Syrian Rebels Claim Capture of Strategic Military Base
» Syria’s Rebels Form Own Secret Police
 
Russia
» Egyptian Man Urinates Into Eternal Flame in Russia’s Volgograd
 
South Asia
» Afghan Taliban Welcome US ‘Zero Option’ On Troops
» Italy: Indian Man Orders a Gold Shirt for New Year
 
Far East
» China is Massively Boosting Stockpiles of Rice, Iron Ore, Precious Metals, Dry Milk
» Japan to Provide the Philippines With Ten Vessels to Patrol South China Sea
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali
» Raid to Free Hostage Secret Agent Fails, Say Islamists
» Two French Helicopters Brought Down in Mali
» U. S Supports French Military Intervention in Mali
 
Latin America
» Amid Federal Land Grab in Brazil, Whole Towns Evicted at Gunpoint
» Argentina’s Kirchner Visits Chavez in Cuba
 
Immigration
» Border Patrol Opens Unmanned Crossing on U.S.-Mexico Border
» Istanbul: Smuggler Capital for EU-Bound Migrants
» Italy: Catholic Bishops Support Citizenship for Immigrants’ Kids
» Souleiman: Solicitor’s Firm in Sham Marriage Scam
 
Culture Wars
» Can America Survive if Americans No Longer Agree on a Core Set of Shared Values?
» Italy’s Supreme Court Says Gays Can Have Custody of Children
» Self-Esteem Fad Harms Student Achievement; Teaching Self-Esteem is Misguided
» Why Americans Cannot Discipline Their Children
 
General
» Wood From Land Feeds Deep Sea Life

Financial Crisis

Italians Lowering Food Standards as Recession Bites

Over one-third shopping at discount grocery stores

(ANSA) — Rome, January 4 — More and more Italians are shopping at discount food stores, lowering traditionally high quality standards as a recession drags on, a report said Friday.

According to national farmers’ group CIA, 34% of Italian families say they shop at low-cost grocery stores, while 28% say they do so exclusively. CIA said that six out of 10 families had to adjust their food-consumption habits in 2012, and 50% significantly cut down on grocery expenses.

The group was responding to data Friday from statistics agency Istat, which showed Italy’s annual inflation rate for 2012 was 3.0%, the highest since 2008, on the basis of preliminary estimates. The so-called ‘trolley’ of most frequently bought goods like groceries and petrol also hit a post-2008 high, of 4.3%, Istat said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Proposes Employer Tax Exemptions on Young Hires

‘It’s like paying under the table’ says ex-premier

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — Former premier Silvio Berlusconi proposed exempting Italian employers from paying social security contributions and taxes for young hires on Wednesday. “We need to do something exceptional,” he told Italian television. “We have four million companies in Italy. We could tell them, if you hire just one extra person on a long-term contract you won’t pay social security contributions and taxes for three, four, five years.

“It’s like paying someone under the table”. Berlusconi, who was forced to resign in November 2011 amid a peak in the country’s debt crisis, is currently campaigning to return to government in Italy, where youth unemployment is soaring.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Moody’s Knocks Cyprus Credit to Junk Status

Credit rating agency Moody’s has downgraded Cyprus’s rating by three notches to junk status as negotiations continue on an EU bailout. It cited ongoing Cypriot government support for ailing local banks as the main reason for the downgrade to Caa3 on Thursday (10 January).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

One of the Biggest and Most Elaborate Falsehoods Ever Sold to the American Public (The Bank Bailouts)

The bailout was, as David Stockman says, a Wall Street crisis. The bankers all freaked out when their bets turned terrible, and then played the information leverage game with Washington to get the tax payers to pay for their mistakes. They basically said that the entire economy was going down (it wasn’t) and therefore an unprecedented abandonment of what was left of our market based economy was justified. It was a giant con.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Federal Government Hands Out Money to 128 Million Americans Every Month

The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 to over 128 million today. A shocking new research paper by Patrick Tyrrell and William W. Beach contains that statistic and a whole bunch of other very revealing numbers. According to their research, the federal government hands out money to 41.3 percent of the entire population of the United States each month. Overall, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to what they call “dependence-creating programs”. It is the most massive wealth redistribution scheme in the history of the world, and it continues to grow at a very rapid pace with each passing month. But can we really afford this? Of course we never want to see a single person go without food to eat or a roof to sleep under, but can the federal government really afford to support 128 million Americans every month? If millions more Americans keep jumping on to the “safety net” each year, how long will it be before it breaks and it is not there for anyone? The federal government is already drowning in debt. This year the U.S. national debt will easily blow past the 17 trillion dollar mark and we are rapidly heading toward financial oblivion. We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day with no end in sight. If we don’t get our finances in order as a nation, what will the end result be?

According to Tyrrell and Beach, federal spending on entitlement programs has been rising more than 6 times as fast as population growth has in recent years…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USA

18 Facts That Prove That Piers Morgan is Flat Out Lying About Gun Control

Piers Morgan is getting on television every night and flat out lying to the American people about gun control. Nearly every statistic that he quotes is inaccurate and he fails to acknowledge a whole host of statistics that would instantly invalidate the arguments that he is trying to make. Yes, the UK has a lower gun murder rate than the United States does, but what Piers Morgan fails to tell you is that the overall rate of violent crime in the UK is about 4 times higher than it is in the United States. A woman in the UK is not allowed pull out a gun to protect herself against a gang of potential rapists. So perhaps that explains why the UK has about 125 percent more rape victims per 100,000 people than the United States does.

While UK newspapers are declaring that the UK has become the “violent crime capital of Europe”, crime rates in the United States have actually fallen dramatically over the past 20 years. This was also a time period during which gun laws became much less restrictive in the United States. Today, murder rates in the U.S. are generally far higher in cities that have very strict gun control laws (such as Chicago) than they are for the general population. The cold, hard numbers make it clear that when there are more guns there is less crime, but hardcore leftists such as Piers Morgan are absolutely obsessed with gun control and Morgan continues to relentlessly attack the 2nd Amendment night after night. We need to start pointing out that he is not telling the truth.

The following are 18 facts that prove that Piers Morgan is flat out lying about gun control…

[…]

Meanwhile, radical leftists are introducing gun grabbing legislation in legislatures all over the United States. [url]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Andrew P. Napolitano: The Right to Shoot Tyrants, Not Deer

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and a hallmark of personal sovereignty. It is specifically insulated from governmental interference by the Constitution and has historically been the linchpin of resistance to tyranny. Yet the progressives in both political parties stand ready to use the coercive power of the government to interfere with the exercise of that right by law-abiding persons because of the gross abuse of that right by some crazies in our midst.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, he was marrying the nation at its birth to the ancient principles of the natural law that have animated the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West. Those principles have operated as a brake on all governments that recognize them by enunciating the concept of natural rights.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brady Campaign Targets Gun Shows

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the nation’s leading gun control groups, said on Friday that it wanted the White House to focus its attention on expanded background checks for gun buyers as part of a broad push to reduce gun violence in the wake of the school attack in Connecticut last month.

The group made the recommendations this week to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and plans to release them publicly Friday afternoon. The Times obtained a copy of the document, which stresses that “closing the massive hole in the background check” system is the group’s top policy priority.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Democrat Bolshevism

We are in the midst of a modern proletarian revolution.

Make no mistake People, we are in the midst of a modern proletarian revolution.

President [Commandante?] Obama does not use this term though, does he? Obama has termed this revolution a “Fundamental Transformation of America.” The Obama cult of personality, and his subservient “congressional lieutenants,” Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and the Progressive Democrat Party are implementing a social and political revolution. Unlike most American fears of secret subversion, the Obama Bolsheviks are doing this out in the open and pretending all the while to be democratic. But do not be fooled. There is nothing here but deception and nothing democratic here but Democratic Centralism. Their means justify their ends.

Within his proletarian revolution Obama cleverly uses the terms “Middle Class” and “the Wealthy” [or rich Americans] because he knows that the term “Working Class” and “Bourgeoisie” are unacceptable. But let’s cut to the chase. Here is their grand plan in one sentence. The Progressive Democrat Working Class is working toward and succeeding in overthrowing the “Bourgeoisie Fat Cats” [have we not heard the term fat cats?]. Proletarian revolutions are all but certainly advocated by committed Socialists, Communists and Anarchists. Communists are not Democrats Anarchists are not Libertarians … so what is going on?

In social and political terms, bourgeoisie, and the adjective bourgeois, are terms made famous by Karl Marx to describe property owners, businessmen and entrepreneurs, and the otherwise prosperous persons of “social class.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DHS Source Confirms Alex Was Being Stalked

Both before and after the appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight Monday, Alex and Infowars video producer Rob Dew knew they were being followed and that people seemed to be casing them around New York City.

“Bumper lock him. Make it obvious. Do whatever you can, just make sure he knows. Handle him as a hostile.”

Those were the instructions reportedly given to federal agents who were assigned to follow Alex Jones during his visit to New York, according to a DHS source with information about the surveillance operation. “It was done to intimidate, no question,” stated this DHS source. “I don’t know how many [agents] were assigned to him and another fellow traveling with him, but I know that there was co-ordination between federal agencies and a private security concern. I’ve learned that the assignment originated from pretty high up and was approved at multiple levels. This was supposed to be ‘off the books,’ no records and there was to be complete denial if confronted,” stated this source. He added that he was unsure if any of the surveillance operatives were working for the city of New York, but stated that “it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s a pretty close relationship at that level between agencies.”

After being alerted to his appearance with Piers Morgan, I contacted my “DHS insider” for his comments and overall assessment. I was neither surprised nor shocked at what I learned. According to my source, Mr. Jones’ itinerary was known in advance and surveillance was established accordingly. The surveillance operatives were working in three-man teams, with as many as nine operatives assigned [to him] at any given time. Video surveillance was involved, and there were instructions to secure any video that could be used to marginalize or embarrass him, with the specific intent to assail his credibility as well as to harass him. It’s my understanding that they were also trying to bait him,“ stated this source.

It’s important to be clear that I have not spoken to Mr. Jones or anyone who accompanied him to New York since our last interview. That said, I was instructed to ask Mr. Jones about an incident that either happened or was supposed to happen — an attempt at a physical confrontation in front of (or near) a Starbucks near the studio. “According to the information I have, it was supposed to be a stated incident that might have involved a woman that would result in some type of physical confrontation. I am unaware whether the situation was ultimately set up or attempted, but it’s purpose was designed to secure video of Mr. Jones [possibly pushing a woman],” stated this source. “He is thought to have a violent temper and could be ‘baited,’“ he added.

“Things are not always as they appear,” added my source. Indeed.

Alex isn’t the only Second Amendment advocate that’s been targeted.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Fairbanks Militia Leader Sentenced to 26 Years in Prison, Apologizes

U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan sentenced Schaeffer Cox, 28, during a two-hour hearing at U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Cox’s sentence came a day after another foot soldier in the Alaska Peacekeepers Militia, 57-year-old Lonnie Vernon, received the same sentence.

Before he was sentenced, Cox broke down several times, grabbing tissues and fighting back tears.

“I put myself here, with my own words,” he said before pausing. “And I feel horrible about that.”

Cox came to the attention of the FBI in late 2009 after speeches in Montana that claimed the Fairbanks militia had 3,500 members and was armed with mines and other military weapons. But the group only had about a dozen members and, as Bryan noted, never trained for military duty.

As the investigation unfolded over more than a year, the FBI eventually used an informant to infiltrate the group. He recorded more than 100 hours of conversations.

Cox’s attorney Nelson Traverso claimed during the trial that the case was an overreach by prosecutors and an attempt to silence Cox and his offensive but protected speech.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

How to End the “Gun Debate” Forever

Despite both nations being disarmed and having almost no “gun-related homicides,” according to UN statistics, Japan and the UK still have an astronomical gap in homicide rates. Why? A visit to either country reveals an entirely different culture, education system, infrastructure, and socioeconomic paradigm. This is why despite Japan having a much larger population, even total homicides are lower than the comparatively more violent but less populated United Kingdom — with homicide rates in the UK nearly 3 times higher than those in Japan.

According to the UN’s study, which includes the most recent annual data available, Japan, with a population of roughly 130 million, had a mere 506 homicides over the stretch of a single year. Conversely, the UK, with less than half of Japan’s population (53 million) had 722 homicides. The rates per 100,000 people for Japan and the UK are 0.4 and 1.2 respectively. The UK, despite being an unarmed population, and having virtually no gun violence, still has 3 times the murder rate than the nation of Japan. Those that are murdered in the UK or Japan, are just as dead as any human being murdered by a gun in the United States. And clearly, this indicates that the presence of guns, or their banning, is not a significant factor driving homicides and violence.

The human capacity to commit violence is not incumbered by a lack of means to do so. Banning certain implements will not deter an individual, or group of individuals from harming others if that is their intent. As the UK’s disarmed but still violent society illustrates, merely banning guns is not the solution. The differences between Japan and the UK are not legal — but socioeconomic and cultural. In the UK, violence in general is the problem. A focus on the implements rather than the factors that drive it, is like treating a cancer by nursing the symptoms. It is a logical fallacy — and ultimately a fatal one.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Illinois Government Wants Gold Registration

Prior to the failure of the Illinois legislature to force citizens to register outlawed firearms, the state moved to place restrictions on the sale of gold.

In 2012, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Precious Metal Purchasing Act. SB3341 states that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall obtain a proof of ownership, create a record of the sale, and verify the identity of the seller. Provides that a person who is in the business of purchasing precious metal shall not pay for the precious metal in cash and shall record the method of payment. (Emphasis added.)

In a CNBC video, Rick Santelli ties the floundering legislation to FDR’s 1933 Executive Order 6102 confiscating gold and setting the stage for Richard Nixon severing the connection between gold and the dollar in 1971.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Indiana Bill Would Make the Implementation of “Obamacare” A Felony

SB 0230 would amend the Indiana Code concerning state and local administration. The text of the bill simply states:

“Provides that any federal act, order, law, rule, regulation, or statute found by the general assembly to be inconsistent with the power granted to the federal government in the Constitution of the United States is void in Indiana. Provides that a resident of Indiana has a cause of action to enjoin the enforcement or implementation or the attempted enforcement or implementation of a federal act, order, law, rule, regulation, or statute declared void by the general assembly. Provides that a plaintiff who prevails in such an action is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Instagram Loses Nearly Half Its Daily Users in a Month After Backlash Over Failed Bid to Win Right to Sell Users’ Photos to Advertisers

Facebook’s ill-fated purchase of Instagram stumbles from one disaster to the next after new figures revealed that the photo-sharing service has lost almost 50 per cent of its daily users in less than a month.

The dramatic drop in traffic has been attributed to an attempt made before Christmas to introduce new terms and conditions which sparked an outcry from users including celebrities such as Kim Kardashian.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Judge Okays Group Prayers for Muslim Inmates in Indiana

(Reuters) — John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban,” and other Muslims housed in an Indiana prison have the right to congregate for daily group prayer sessions, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

The decision by officials at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to ban daily group prayers for Muslim inmates violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said.

The ruling came in a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan and imprisoned in the United States after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and two other Muslim inmates.

The case was argued before Magnus-Stinson last August.

Prison officials cited security reasons for prohibiting inmates from getting together five times a day for unsupervised ritual prayer services.

But the court noted that the prisoners were not otherwise confined to their cells during these times and were permitted to engage in other group activities such as talking, watching videos and playing games.

The judge also said the prison had sophisticated audio and video surveillance equipment in place for monitoring prisoner activities.

Magnus-Stinson gave the prison warden 60 days to come up with a new policy for Muslim prayer.

Lindh, who was born in the United States, has been in prison since 2002. He pleaded guilty to supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

Lindh is currently considered a low-security risk among the prison population, according to court documents. He is allowed to play contact sports and cards, and to watch television and movies, including Muslim videos in Arabic, the ruling said.

           — Hat tip: LS [Return to headlines]

Liberals and Hollywood Liberate Satanist Murderers of Children

The liberal establishment rode to the rescue of three confirmed satanists convicted of murdering three children.

Hollywood continues to spew agitprop. Instead of exposing the truth, it normalizes Satanism by portraying ritual murderers as persecuted victim-heroes. Thus evil becomes good and good is evil. Welcome to the NWO.

Unfortunately, the narrative presented by the convicted murderers and their supporters is a lie. Voluminous evidence compiled by the Arkansas police and court system points directly to the West Memphis Three as the perpetrators. Not only did each one of the guilty confess at different times, Jesse Misskelley confessed four times to legal authorities. These confessions by Misskelley contained details about the murders known only to persons at the crime scene.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Says U. S. Close to Eliminating Al Qaeda

(AGI) — Washington — The United States is closer to achieving its final objective of eliminating Al Qaeda completely. Barack Obama made the announcement in a joint press conference with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Obama Executive Orders on Guns Would Spark Mass Resistance

As the Obama administration openly vows to use unconstitutional “executive orders” to further infringe on the right to keep and bear arms, gun rights activists, members of the law enforcement community, military personnel and others are pledging to resist. Everything from an armed uprising and nationwide civil disobedience to legal means of resistance like the courts and nullification is being openly discussed online and even in the establishment media.

“The president is going to act,” pledged Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading an administration task force to further restrict gun rights in the wake of the Newtown massacre. “Executive order, executive action can be taken, we haven’t decided what that is yet. But we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action we believe is required.”

The Constitution, of course, reserves all legislative powers to Congress — not to mention the specific prohibition against infringements on gun rights contained in the Second Amendment. But disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder, who is helping develop the “executive action” plot, was caught in the 1990s on video calling for a tax-funded campaign to “brainwash” people against guns. He was also held in criminal contempt of Congress for lying about Operation Fast and Furious, which saw the Justice Department providing thousands of powerful guns to Mexican drug cartels through the ATF.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Patients and Physician Practice Under Obamacare

As if health care was not undergoing enough fundamental transformation in this country, Democrats are now attacking the profits that hospitals and doctors make in the delivery of their services. Why should doctors and hospitals make obscene profits or any profits at all? An article in The New York Times, “Health Care and Profits, a Poor Mix,” by Eduardo Porter, claims that nonprofits (hospitals and clinics) deliver better care.

“There is really is no such thing as a nonprofit. A nonprofit is an organization that claims on its books at the end of every year that it didn’t make any money.” But the people that work at nonprofits score like bandits. The low-information voter thinks nonprofits are people sacrificing for the common good and they’re not burning any money and they’re not getting rich.” (Rush Limbaugh, January 9, 2012 broadcast)

“Our track record suggests that handing over responsibility for social goals to private enterprise is providing us with social goods of lower quality, distributed more inequitably and at a higher cost than if government delivered or paid for them directly.” (Eduardo Porter)

The crux of the New York Times article is that we should not rely on the private sector at all to satisfy “broad social needs” like health care delivery, we should allow the federal government to do it all because it can do it better. Obamacare, with its government-run exchanges, will show us soon enough how well the feds are delivering health care. The health care insurance will be enforced and wayward citizens penalized by the vigilant 16,000 IRS agents. A 15-member death panel will be tasked with approving and denying care and procedures.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pennsylvania State Police Launch New App to Help Fight Terrorism

A new smartphone application has been developed to help the Pennsylvania State Police receive reports regarding suspicious activity that may be linked to terrorism.

The new See Something, Send Something app allows suspicious activity to be captured as a photo or written note and sent to the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC).

“This App provides concerned citizens with an effective communications and reporting tool,” State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. “The See Something, Send Something mobile app, developed by My Mobile Witness, sends terrorism-related tips directly to PaCIC where tips are evaluated by analysts and assigned for investigation as warranted,” Noonan said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Porn Companies Sue to Overturn Los Angeles Condom Law

Two major US porn companies have taken legal action to try to overturn a law requiring porn actors in Los Angeles County to wear condoms.

Vivid Entertainment and Califa Productions say the measure violates the guarantee of free speech in the US constitution’s First Amendment.

The law, known as Measure B, was approved by voters in November.

The measure was supported by the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which said it would shield actors from HIV.

“Overturning this law is something I feel very passionate about,” Steven Hirsch, founder of the Vivid Entertainment, told AFP news agency.

“I believe the industry’s current testing system works well,” he added.

Porn actors Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce are joining the challenge against the law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Psychiatric Drugs: The Giant, Gaping Hole in Sandy Hook Reporting

Since last month’s horrifying and heartbreaking school massacre in Newtown, Conn., politicians and the press have, as everyone knows, been totally obsessed with firearms.

[…]

But where, I’d like to ask my colleagues in the media, is the reporting about the psychiatric medications the perpetrator — who had been under treatment for mental-health problems — may have been taking? After all, Mark and Louise Tambascio, family friends of the shooter and his mother, were interviewed on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” during which Louise Tambascio told correspondent Scott Pelley: “I know he was on medication and everything, but she homeschooled him at home cause he couldn’t deal with the school classes sometimes, so she just homeschooled Adam at home. And that was her life.” And here, Tambascio tells ABC News, “I knew he was on medication, but that’s all I know.”

It has been more than three weeks since the shooting. We know all about the guns he used, but what “medication” may he have used?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Utah Town Makes Arming Every Household a Top Priority

Officials in a small Utah town want to make sure every head of household has a firearm and knows how to use it, and they want to give school teachers training with guns too.

Spring City Councilman Neil Sorensen first proposed an ordinance requiring a gun in every household in the town of 1,000. The rest of the council scoffed at making it a requirement, but they unanimously agreed to move forward with an ordinance “recommending” the idea.

The council also approved funding to offer concealed firearms training Friday to the 20 teachers and administrators at the local elementary school.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

When Only Tyrants Have Guns

The gullible that rely on emotion rather than logic are easy prey for such opportunists as Bloomberg, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Holder and of course Barack Hussein Obama. Governmental anti-gun types are shameless in their efforts to exploit a tide of mindless emotionalism by advocating what they euphemistically refer to as “sensible gun laws”. While they bend over backwards attempting to sell their notions as “sensible,” there is nothing sensible about it. To these control freaks, the only solution to gun shootings is to disarm the law abiding. Take for example Obama’s flippant response to the NRA’s idea of posting armed guards in schools:

[…]

Here’s the dirty little secret — for all their hysterical anti-gun rhetoric, the gun grabbers really don’t care about saving lives — what they care about is power. They use tragedies like Sandy Hook to pursue their real goal, which is to disarm American citizens. They attempt to disguise their real intents, and in some cases even give lip service to the second amendment. One especially comedic example is that of John Kerry, who during his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign went on a photo-op “hunting” trip, complete with camos in order to show he supports “hunters”. Understand — and this is a crucial point — the second amendment isn’t about “hunting.” It never has been. The fact is that the right to bear arms was put into place by the founders as a means of protecting the citizens from tyranny. That is why would-be governmental gun grabbers hate that pesky second amendment. An armed populace is the one thing standing between them and what they want — an omnipotent central government accountable to no one and free to impose its will on a defenseless public. Sound harsh? Consider the gun policies of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung and think again…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Where Does the Hatred of Constitutionalism Come From?

The Constitution of the United States is an undeniably powerful document. So powerful in fact, that it took establishment elitists with aspirations of globalized governance over a century to diminish the American people’s connection to it. It’s been a long time coming, but in the new millennium, there is now indeed a subsection of the masses that not only have no relationship to our founding roots, they actually despise those of us who do!

There are a number of reasons for this dangerous development in our culture: A public school system that rarely if ever teaches children about the revolution, the founders, constitutional liberty, or the virtues of individualism in general. A mainstream media apparatus that has regurgitated endless anti-constitutional shlock for decades, attacking any person or group that presents a freedom oriented view. And a governmental structure that has become so corrupt, so openly criminal, that they ignore all aspects of constitutional law without regard, rarely feeling the need to explain themselves. As a people, we are surrounded daily by the low droning wash-talk of denigration and disdain for our principled foundations. The wretched ghosts of collectivism and tyranny mumble in our ears from birth to death. It’s truly a miracle that every man and woman in this nation has not succumbed to the mind numbing hypnotism…

However, our propaganda soaked environment is not the ONLY cause of our self destructive society; many people are themselves to blame. Severe character flaws and psychological imbalances have left some open to suggestion, manipulation, and fraud. Their hatred, though fueled in part by the socialization of the establishment, is still theirs to own.

The brutal ignorance on display in mainstream circles against the liberty-minded needs to be addressed. In my view, the American public is being conditioned to see us as a convenient “enemy” which they can use to project all their internal grief and woe. Our country is on the verge of collapse, economically, politically, and philosophically. Corporatized elements of our government and the financial high priests of the international banking sector are behind this calamity, and of course, they don’t plan to take responsibility. Who better to demonize as the catalyst for all the pain that is coming than the only people who have the awareness and the means to stand against the catastrophe?

[Comment: Great article.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House is Wrong: First Amendment Doesn’t Protect Piers Morgan From Deportation

White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a factually incorrect response Wednesday to the White House petition to deport British-born CNN host Piers Morgan, wrongly claiming that Morgan, who has launched repeated televised attacks on the Second Amendment, is protected from deportation by the First Amendment.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto explained on Twitter December 22 [url] the legal precedent that prevents Morgan from citing the First Amendment to protect his status in the United States:

“Your opinion is protected, your presence in the U.S. is not. See Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972),” Taranto replied to Morgan.

Taranto linked to transcripts from a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to allow a foreign journalist into the United States did not violate the First Amendment. The case resulted from Nixon administration attorney general Richard Kleindienst’s refusal to grant a temporary nonimmigrant visa to Marxist Belgian journalist Ernest Mandel.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why Are Rice Cookers and Fridges Fitted With Internet Connections and Android OS?

Bloomberg today carries a report that details how seemingly innocuous electrical appliances such as rice cookers and refrigerators are now being manufactured with Google’s Android operating system and an internet connection.

Of course, the article suggests this is a good thing, a helpful, innovative technological leap. The truth, however, is that gadgets have now become tools for spying on you in your own home.

George Orwell was merely scratching the surface with telescreens — the 21st century home as a surveillance hub will outstrip anything you read about in 1984. From dishwashers to light bulbs, so-called “smart homes” will allow industry and the government to spy ubiquitously on every aspect of your existence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Why You Are Powerless Against the Government

Have you ever felt powerless? That no matter what you do it just won’t make ANY difference. You cast your vote for people to represent your best wishes but are repeatedly let down. What can you possibly do? This is a great video from Larken Rose that clarifies the problem that we face today in our economy. It is a situation that is just too weird for 99.99% of the people to adequately explain. No commentary is needed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Wyoming Bill Would Nullify Obama Gun Control, Jail Feds

As the Obama administration plots various assaults on gun rights by “executive order” and legislation, proposals described as “very extreme” even by some Democrats, state lawmakers in Wyoming have another idea. Republican legislators are rallying behind nullification legislation that would void unconstitutional infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, even providing prison time for any federal agents who may try to enforce Washington, D.C., gun control in the state. Lawmakers expect it to pass.

The new bill, H.B. 0104 or the “Firearms Protection Act,” would nullify any new federal infringements on the constitutionally protected gun rights of state residents — who enjoy some of the lowest crime rates while being among the most heavily armed people in America. Unconstitutional federal gun registration schemes, as well as restrictions on semi-automatic guns or standard-capacity magazines, would also be nullified under the legislation.

There are teeth in the proposed law too: Any federal official attempting to enforce unconstitutional statutes or decrees infringing on gun rights passed after January 1 of this year would be charged with a felony. If convicted, criminal officials would be punished by up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. The legislation also authorizes the state attorney general to defend citizens of Wyoming if federal authorities seek prosecutions under unconstitutional gun control rules.

At least eight state representatives and two state senators have already sponsored the legislation. And nationwide, support for similar measures is exploding. “We want to get things ahead of the game,” Republican state Rep. Kendell Kroeker, the primary sponsor of the bill, told the Huffington Post. “We take the Second Amendment seriously in Wyoming… If the federal government is going to pass laws taking back our rights, it is our right as a state to defend those rights.”

[…]

Predictably, Obama apparatchiks funded by billionaire statist George Soros are already crying foul, too. The far-left “Think Progress” blog, for example, claimed that nullification would be unconstitutional. “The constitution actually stipulates that federal law ‘shall be the supreme law of the land,’“ Annie-Rose Strasser alleged falsely, without pointing out the constitutional stipulation that federal laws must be “made in pursuance” with the Constitution. It was not clear whether the writer was simply ignorant of American history and the U.S. Constitution, or whether the false statements were deliberate lies in an effort to confuse readers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Algeria Winning in War Against Illiteracy

18% illiteracy in 2013 versus 22.3% in 2008

(ANSAmed) — ROME, 09 JAN — 50 years after gaining independence from France Algeria is winning the battle against illiteracy. According to a report presented Tuesday in Algiers, illiteracy rates in 2013 — which are calculated on school data, dipped to just under 18%, down from 22.3% in 2008. It might appear slight, but the fall is symbolic of a huge government effort into fighting the problem.

Not only are illiterate people difficult to track down, they often need to be persuaded to sidestep cultural barriers which rate money over education, and to take part in illiteracy programs.

ßßAccording to the report illiteracy rates will continue to decline in the coming years, reaching 14.76% in 2015 and as low as 12% in 2018. Experts are hopeful — if cautious, that the problem could be wiped out for good by 2016. On this track, the three organisers of the study — the Iqra association, the national Center for Population and Development (CENEAP) and mobile phone operator Nedjma — seem to agree. But that is not to forget the cause of the phenomenon. “132 years of colonialism can’t be erased in 50 years”, said a CENEAP source. In 1830, before French colonialists took over rates were as low as 14%. Following the systematic erosion of the Algerian education systems under French rule, illiteracy rates between 1948 and 1955 shot up to 94%, only to dip slightly to 85% in 1962, the year of independence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Brent Police: UK — The Top 20 Most Wanted

[2-3 have british name and appearance!]

Abubakar Alam-Alhuda, 35, is wanted for failing to turn up at court charged with robbery
Ahmed Jama is wanted for failing to appear in court accused of robbery
Ann Marie McDonagh, 37, is wanted for failing to show up at court accused of theft
Charles Dhillo, 40, is wanted in connection with two incidents of fraud
David Ashley Morgan, 47, is wanted on suspicion of GBH
Dyleppe Patel, 39, is wanted for failing to appear at court accused of criminal damage
Felix Moorehouse, 30, is wanted for failing to appear in court charged with burglary
Felix Tobiah, 47, is wanted for failing to appear in court charged with common assault
Gabriel Buliga, 33, is wanted on suspicion of ABH
Illi Florel, 21, is wanted on suspicion of burglary
Kaz Balogun, 37, is wanted for failing to show up in court accused of theft
Lennox Fearon, 47, is wanted for failling to turn up in court charged with common assault
Lisa Campbell, 31, is wanted on suspicion of GBH
Michael Ellington, 50, is wanted for failing to turn up at court accused of drug dealing
Peter Amissah, 33, is wanted on suspicion of ABH
Raymond Reid, 52, is wanted on suspicion of harrassment
Ryan Praise, 24, is wanted for failing to show up in court charged with common assault
Samuel Donison, 21, is wanted on suspicion of ABH
Shamshed Lochoor, 28, is wanted for failing to show up at court charged with fraud
Stefan Cracium, 32, is wanted on suspicion of GBH

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Depardieu Reiterates He Remains a Frenchman

(AGI) Paris — Gerard Depardieu has said that he may have a Russian passport but, “I am French and will certainly also have dual Belgian- Russian nationality .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

EU Court Opens Hearings Into Genoa G8 Brutality

Considering 20 complaints from Italy and abroad

(ANSA) — Strasbourg, January 2 — More than a decade after brutal police beatings of protesters at a Group of Eight summit in Genoa in 2001, the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg began hearings into the case Wednesday.

The Strasbourg court is considering applications brought by 20 people in Italy and other parts of the Europe in the case where police brutality left two people comatose and sent 26 to hospital.

The worst attacks occurred when police raided the Diaz school, where anti-globalization protesters were sleeping. Last July, Italy’s top appeals court upheld the convictions of several high-ranking officers, saying that violent actions by some police and unprovoked mass arrests of anti-globalization demonstrators had discredited Italy in the eyes of the world.

The court slammed police for fabricating justifications for their actions, such as falsely claiming that protesters had stabbed an officer and were about to use Molotov cocktails, which were in fact planted by the police.

Senior police made false accusations and committed slander against the accused, and overall failed in their duties during the three-day summit in Genoa, the court said in upholding and even increasing prison sentences against senior officers.

Amid the violence that marred the three-day event, a police officer killed a 23-year-old protester as he was about to hurl a fire extinguisher into his vehicle.

In its July final ruling, the court said that former national police chief Gianni De Gennaro, the only senior officer to be acquitted at the end of the appeals process, had demanded arrests “to redeem the image of the police from charges of inertia” against militant rampages that devastated the northwestern port city.

But jail sentences were suspended for many top officers who have yet to be sanctioned by the interior ministry, and sentences for the riot police eventually timed out.

The Italian government was forced to pay 350,000 euros in compensation last fall to a British freelance journalist brutally beaten by Italian police.

Mark Covell, who has called for a more complete investigation of the G8 debacle, was unconscious for 14 hours after police in riot gear raided the Diaz school, The bludgeoning left him with a vein twisted around his spine, a perforated lung, broken fingers, ten smashed teeth and eight broken ribs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian House Prices See Third Straight Fall

Sharper than previous two drops

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 11 — House prices in recession-hit Italy saw their third straight fall in the third quarter of 2012, statistics agency Istat said Friday.

Istat’s house-price index fell 1.1% compared to the previous quarter and was 3.2% down on the third quarter of 2011.

The drops were sharper than the previous two.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian Researchers Identify Cholesterol-Fighting Cheese

Pecorino lowers levels of those eating it by about 7%

(ANSA) — Cagliari, January 3 — An Italian group of researchers have identified a cheese produced with a particular breed of sheeps’ milk as lowering cholesterol levels, according to an article published on Thursday in the British Journal of Nutrition of Cambridge.

Biomedical Sciences Department of Cagliari University on the island of Sardinia, together with the local national health unit Asl 8, the University of Pisa in Tuscany, and cheese producer Argiolas are those involved in the project. Pecorino cheese made from ‘Cla’ sheep’s milk reportedly lowers the cholesterol levels of those eating it by some 7%, according to the research report.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: Pro Patria Get Stadium Ban for Racist Fans

Jeers against black players prompted Milan to walk from friendly

(ANSA) — Florence, January 8 — An Italian sporting judge on Tuesday ruled that fourth-tier Pro Patria must play their next home league game behind closed doors after racist chants from some of their fans caused AC Milan to abandon a friendly last week.

Milan players left the field after home fans directed racist jeers at black players Kevin Prince Boateng, ‘Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari during Thursday’s match at Busto Arsizio, north of Milan.

Many Pro Patria fans painted their fans black for their team’s league match last weekend to show they are not racist and express solidarity for the black players.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Approval Rating -8% After Entering Election Race

‘Politicization to blame’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Outgoing Premier Mario Monti’s approval ratings fell eight points to 30% in January since throwing his hat into the election race, according to an SWG Institute poll commissioned by public broadcaster RAI 3.

“The drop is due to his politicization,” SWG President Robert Weber explained. The poll of 1,500 respondents aged 18 and up was conducted by phone and Internet over January 7-9.

Monti had 71% approval ratings in November 2011, upon taking office.

They dropped to 47% in April 2012, to 37% in October, to 36% in November, and 38% in December.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Centre-Left Coalition Retains Lead, Opinion Poll

Centre-right closes gap, Monti in fourth place

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — The centre-left coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) topped opinion polls on Friday at 34.9% with its centre-right rivals following nearly 10 points behind.

The Pd alone was polling 29.8% with additional support provided by coalition allies Left Ecology Freedom of Puglia governor Nichi Vendola (4.4%) and Democratic Centre (0.7%) according to a survey conducted by Trieste-based polling institute SWG on behalf of State broadcaster’s left-leaning third channel Rai 3.

A coalition of centre-right parties led by ex premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party raked in 25.3% of preferences, with the lion’s share of 15.7% going to the dL followed by the regionalist Northern League (6.1%) and the rest to a host of smaller formations. Comedian-cum-politician Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement continued its downwards slide at 15.9% in the wake of criticism over an autocratic leadership style.

The centrist coalition headed by technocrat premier Mario Monti — who decided to throw his hat into the ring just a few days ago after repeated denials — was polling 13.8% and new entry Civil Revolution led by former Sicilian anti-Mafia prosecutor Antonio Ingroia had gained ground with 4.5%. SWG President Roberto Weber added that Berlusconi may have gained a couple of points following his feisty Thursday evening appearance on a left-wing talk show on the small terrestrial channel La7, which resulted in record viewing figures. The number of undecided voters or abstentions, while still high at 33.5%, was falling, he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Priapus Statue ‘A Bit of Fun’, Says Pianist at Ruby Trial

‘Provocative dancing, but no touching’ at Berlusconi villa

(ANSA) — Milan, January 11 — A statue of fertility god Priapus was passed around at an August 2010 dinner party at the Villa San Martino owned by former premier Silvio Berlusconi in Arcore as a “joke”, pianist and singer Danilo Mariani told judges at the so-called Ruby prostitution procurement trial on Friday.

“I saw this statue with this thing,” the entertainer told presiding criminal court judge Annamaria Gatto and the other magistrates. “The waiter brought it. It was just a bit of fun.

It got passed around. People made jokes, but none of the guests mimed any sexual gestures”. The pianist is a defense witness in the trial of retired TV anchorman and close Berlusconi friend Emilio Fede, bankrupt ex-talent scout Lele Mora and ex-Lombardy regional councillor and the ex-premier’s former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti for alleged procurement of prostitutes, including underage ones, in connection with alleged sex parties hosted by Berlusconi. Ruby, Ambra Battilana, Chiara Danese, Barbara Faggioli, and Minetti were among the girls he saw at the Arcore parties, the witness said, adding there was no stripping. “There was dancing after dinner, and some danced more provocatively than others. There was never any touching,” Mariani told the court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Aide Was ‘Mafia’s Ambassador’ in Party — Ingroia

Dell’Utri facing retrial on charges of helping Cosa Nostra

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Centre-right Senator and former Silvio Berlusconi aide Marcello Dell’Utri was the Mafia’s ambassador in the ex-premier’s party, Antonio Ingroia, the former Palermo anti-mafia prosecutor, said Friday.

Dell’Utri is currently facing a retrial in Palermo on the orders of the supreme Court of Cassation for allegedly helping the Mafia on grounds that his legal rights were not respected in an earlier appeal.

Italy’s highest court also said there was evidence that the suspect had acted as an intermediary with the Mafia for Berlusconi, handing on “substantial sums” of money — thought to total around 40 million euros over 10 years — for protection.

Ingroia, the leader of the newly formed Civil Revolution political party, said Dell’Utri helped Berlusconi form his former party, Forza Italia, “on the basis of an agreement” with the Sicilian Mafia.

“Dell’Utri worked with input from Cosa Nostra, he was the ambassador of Cosa Nostra,” Ingroia told La7 television.

Dell’Utri is also one of 11 people implicated in a case concerning alleged negotiations between the Mafia and the Italian State in the early 1990s, including notorious Mafia bosses, ex-anti-Mafia police officers and current members of parliament.

He denies any wrongdoing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Feels ‘Anti-Political’, ‘Anointed by the People’

(AGI) — Milan, Jan 5 — Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi said in an interview that “inside I feel anti-political”. “I feel and will always feel I am an entrepreneur who has put himself at the service of politics.” He went on to say that he had “never said” he was “anointed by the Lord”. “I only said that in the past the kings were anointed by the Lord,” whereas in our days leaders “are anointed by the people. I am — if anything — anointed by the people.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rubbish Emergency in Calabria Shows No Sign of Abating

Garbage heaps pile up across the region

(ANSA) — Catanzaro, January 3 — A rubbish emergency in Calabria, the region south of Campania, shows no sign of abating despite reassurances from officials as waste overflows into the streets months after the government intervened.

In November, a special commissioner was named to resolve the issue. “For the return of normalcy, we will need a few days,” said Vincenzo Speranza at the time. There are still numerous rubbish heaps, in some cases piled up higher than two meters, in many urban areas, particularly in the territories of Catanzaro and Reggio. The situation is more commonly associated with Naples, north of Calabria, where waste management is a chronic problem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Lazio Region Appeals to High Court to Save Rubbish Plan

Lazio tries to cut off new crisis in Rome’s rubbish threat

(ANSA) — Rome, January 10 — Lazio’s regional administration will fight to the last for its rejected garbage disposal plan, as it announced on Thursday that it will immediately appeal to Italy’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, to save it.

Rubbish could start piling up in Rome’s streets in a crisis reminiscent of the problems Naples has had in recent years if a new dump site is not found, Environment Minister Corrado Clini warned last fall.

Clini presented a draft decree on Monday to ward off a rubbish emergency in the capital, which would designate space in regional facilities for waste coming from Rome province. On Wednesday, however, Lazio’s garbage woes thickened when the Lazio Regional Administrative Court threw out the regional administration’s 2011-2017 waste management plan, passed in January 2012.

The Lazio court ruled in favor of the Green Party’s complaint that European Commission (EC) had already found Lazio in violation of European rules when it came to waste management.

Lazio’s administration countered on Thursday that EC had, in fact, lifted its sanction, which dated back to 2007, thanks to the measures outlined in January 2012 plan. The Lazio administration quoted an EC commission ruling which found the plans “in line with European legislation”.

“It astonishes, therefore, that (the Lazio court) maintains that those same norms were violated,” the Lazio administration’s statement said. The Lazio court argued that the EC’s assessment had been correct when it concluded that the region’s waste management did not go far enough to abate dangers to human health and to the environment, but only reduced the volume and dangerous contents of the rubbish.

Lazio Green Party President Nando Bonessio complained that Lazio’s waste management plan was based on “landfills and incinerators in the Lazio region, where they passed-off shredding and sorting as treatment”. The Lazio court also chucked out the regional government’s claim that it had already curtailed the quantity of its waste and reached a 2012 goal of 65% differentiated trash collection for recycling. The Lazio court wrote, “The official data of (the State’s environmental research institute) ISPRA show a different trend from that which was taken into consideration by the regional administration, indicating a constant annual rise in the production of regional waste.” Regional technicians are currently investigating this finding.

ßßßß The Italian capital has been on the verge of having trash problems for some time with its huge dump at Malagrotta filled to well beyond capacity and local administrators, environmental groups and residents unable to agree on an alternative.

ßßßß A commissioner for the rubbish emergency, Prefect Goffredo Sottile, was brought in by the technocrat government of Mario Monti to handle the emergency and locate new space for Rome’s trash.

ßßßß “On January 1, 2013 we risk having rubbish in the streets of Rome,” Sottile declared in late October.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Larry Pratt: British Gun Crime Stats Are a “Sham”

Last night, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight for a debate with the host. Morgan is a British “citizen” (“subject”?) who has recently been using his platform on CNN to promote the idea that the U.S. Constitution is “inherently flawed” and to advocate stricter, more British-style gun control policies in the U.S. This was Pratt’s second appearance on the show in the past month, having previously appeared in the wake of the Sandy Hook event.

At one point in the exchange (around 11:18 in this video), Morgan says that he “actually dug out the official figures… the homicide figures from guns in England and Wales by comparison to the United States of America going back to 2003,” and proceeds to read off numbers showing that the U.S. has a much higher gun murder rate. Morgan then claims that the lower numbers in England and Wales are “the result” of the “responsible action” taken in “respon[se]” to the 1996 school shooting in Dunblane, Scottland — namely a “handgun and assault weapon ban.”

To begin with, More Guns, Less Crime author John Lott has recently explained that this is a misleading representation of the statistics: Yes, the gun murder rate is relatively low in England and Wales, but it was already low before the ban, and the stats do not show a decrease in murders committed with guns (nor overall murders) since the ban was instituted, as Morgan implies. “There is a difference between levels and changes,” he notes. Meanwhile, The Telegraph reported in 2009 that gun crime had “almost doubled in the last decade”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Scotland: Dundee Businessman Jailed for Multimillion Pound VAT Fraud

Shahid Ramzan, from Broughty Ferry, was found guilty of five charges, including evading, either alone or with others, VAT payments of £5,611,839 between October 2002 and July 2004.

The 40-year-old was also found guilty of transferring or hiding “criminal property” of £20,610,213.

Judge Lord Brailsford said the offences were “serious crimes of dishonesty”.

At his trial, the High Court in Edinburgh was told Ramzan, 40, began trading from a bedroom at his home in Broughty Ferry, with only a telephone, a fax machine and a computer to access the internet.

Prosecutors claimed his international dealing was only a cover for his real business, exploiting loopholes in VAT regulations, along with others who were using Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) VAT fraud.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Drug Dealer Used Unemployment Benefits to Make 24,000 Mobile Phone Calls to Sell Heroin and Crack

Unemployed Aftar Khan, 24, pocketed up to £500 a month job seeker’s allowance — but rather than look for a job, he made 78 calls and texts to clients every day for ten months to sell them drugs.

Despite being repeatedly arrested and bailed Khan continued his crime racket.

Today Khan, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester was starting a five years and four months prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing a Class A drug with intent to supply and dangerous driving.

He was sentenced yesterday at Manchester Crown Court.

His accomplice Aziz Ur Rahman, 21, also of Rochdale, pleaded guilty to possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply and was jailed for two years.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Jimmy Savile Spent ‘Every Waking Minute’ Thinking About Abusing Boys and Girls

Jimmy Savile spent “every waking minute” of his life thinking about abusing children, attacked patients in hospices and even used the final edition of the BBC’s Top of the Pops to commit sex offences, police disclosed this morning.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of the inquiry, said Savile had “groomed a nation” and preyed on 450 victims, aged between eight and 47, over a 54-year period. Almost a fifth of his victims were boys.

The report says that Savile committed offences at 14 hospitals, including a Sue Ryder hospice in Leeds and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London.

As well as Broadmoor, he also committed an offence at Ashworth NHS High Security Unit.

He committed 22 offences at Stoke Mandeville and 16 at Leeds General Hospital. The other NHS hospitals involved, where one offence was reported at each, were Broadmoor; Ashworth; St James Teaching Hospital, Leeds; High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, Leeds; Dewsbury Hospital; Wycombe General, High Wycombe; Great Ormond Street; Exeter Hospital; Portsmouth Royal Hospital; St Catherine’s Hospital, Birkenhead and Saxondale Mental Health Hospital, Notts.

The Sue Ryder Hospice where he committed one offence in 1977 was Wheatfield Hospice in Leeds.

The report adds that Savile committed offences at four schools, where he would be invited as a guest after featuring their pupils on Jim’ll Fix It.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Report Into Savile Reveals 60 Years of Abuse, 34 Raped, Up to 450 Sexually Assaulted

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Twisted Jimmy Savile carried out an ‘unprecedented’ 60 year long campaign of sexual abuse across Britain with up to 450 victims, including 34 who claim to have been raped, an official report revealed.

Since the paedophile DJ died in October 2011 aged 84, a staggering 214 official crimes have been recorded by 28 police forces.

Today’s report into his abuse states Savile used his celebrity to ‘hide in plain sight’ while he targeted those as young as eight and sexually assaulted at least 23 on BBC premises, as well as in 14 hospitals and at least one hospice between 1955 and 2009.

Releasing today’s report, Peter Spindler, the police officer in charge of the investigation, said Savile had ‘groomed the nation’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party Are Split Over Handling of Rape Allegation

Trotskyist group exonerated official because it doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois court system’ to deliver justice

The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

The scandal, which has opened up deep splits within Britain’s largest far-left party, emerged this week when disaffected members leaked minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting which exonerated the official accused of rape and sexual assault.

The furore has led to the expulsion of key members and multiple resignations.

Today Tom Walker, a journalist at the party’s paper, Socialist Worker, became the most prominent member to quit the party in disgust.

In a devastating critique published on the rival Communist Party of Great Britain’s website, Walker excoriated the SWP’s handling of the rape accusations, alleging that the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and “amateur justice that was doomed from the start”.

The minutes of the disciplinary meeting, which was held during the party’s December conference, detail how SWP leaders were determined to keep the matter away from the police and official authorities — with one member stating that the party had “no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice”.

The row is just the latest sexism scandal to tarnish the reputation of Britain’s radical left which tends to portray itself as a fierce advocate for women’s rights. In September, the Respect Party’s former leader, Salma Yaqoob, quit in protest over comments made by its founder, George Galloway, that the accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange simply constituted “bad sexual etiquette” and not rape.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: SWP’s Tom Walker: Why I Am Resigning

Tom Walker, (now former) Socialist Worker journalist, argues that the time has come to leave the SWP

The Socialist Workers Party is in deep crisis — as it has been for several months now. The reason is simple: an allegation of rape against Martin Smith, the then central committee member now referred to on some parts of the internet as comrade Delta, and the way it was handled by the party.

This case, as several speakers at conference noted, was in reality the sole reason for the four expulsions in the run-up to conference, the sole reason for the formation of two factions, and the sole reason for the split in the CC which resulted in an alternative slate being put to the conference, removing two CC members who had attempted to challenge the way the case was handled.

After much reflection, I have decided the immediate aftermath also means that I have no option other than to resign not just from the paper, but from the party, and encourage others to do likewise.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Why Depardieu: The Rich and the Poor Flee France and Hollande

Is it a tempest in a glass of water, as would ask inspector Clouseau? I don’t know, may be. French superstar Gerard Depardieu wants to give back his passport ; he is tired of paying so much taxes, up to 85% of his income, tired too of being insulted repeatedly in a country where public insulting has become a full-time job, involving now even the PM, his cabinet and a bunch of petty manipulators of opinion. If you study the case, you will find that the partisans of tax-raising are the worst warmongers too. Nobody is perfect, yet someone has the ability to be totally imperfect!

Depardieu is facing a French “new wave” of insults and sarcasms. Since the government’s official newspaper, Liberation, has insulted Bernard Arnault, the prestigious manager of LVMH and the richest man in Europe for having fled to Belgium (“scram, you rich jerk!”), nobody is spared by the French autocratic press, financed by public money and the unavoidable Rothschild heir, who enjoys wasting his money in crippled media. So the French star is being labelled a jerk, a lame-duck, a vile servant, even an asshole (in the front-page!) not to say worse… lately a French actor, a rather radical chic one, Philippe Torreton, used again the tribune of Liberation to insult our national Obelix! Yet our last national glory, Brigitte Bardot, has replied violently, as she is used to do: “The unknown Torreton, may keep his thrash, his vulgarity and his jealousy, his rage too to insult those who deserve better than him.” Dear BB: she is finally defending the Gauls, after having spent so much time in defending less valuable mammals!

Since he has been elected, François Hollande has been perfect, having committed what we call a “sans-faute”; he is flawless, an almost perfect president, for being worse than Sarkozy, Chirac, Mitterrand, whoever has been here lately! He has increased the French war-effort in Syria; raised a lot of new taxes, discouraged private initiative, impoverished the poor and hunting down the rich with hounds of technocrats, clerks and reporters turned into insulting jokers. The number of unemployed is soaring every month, up to more than three millions, and no employer is willing to take risks in a country driven by a somewhat loony rhetoric of equality. The PM Ayrault had even the guts of asking -with a threatening tone- his victims to stay in their country in order to pay more taxes for the increasing number of poor, the always ill-treated immigrants and the victims of a system that has driven him to power! It is like if Hitler had asked Einstein to stay in Germany in order to help Heisenberg build the atomic bomb! Anyway the socialists are already losing all local elections, and the unpopularity of inexperienced and incompetent Hollande is at its high.

[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Rome Tripoli’s Top Trade Partner, Wants Security

Libyan president at economic forum Rome, priority for us

(ANSAmed) — Rome — Commercial exchanges between Italy and Libya were worth 4,585 billion euros in 2011, with Italian exports towards Tripoli up 305% and imports from Libya rising 211% in the first months of 2012, according to data released at an economic forum on Italy and Libya at the foreign ministry in Rome. Participants however stressed that lack of security in Libya could halt the further growth of this privileged relationship.

The meeting was introduced by Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi and the president of the National Congress and Libyan head of state Mohamed Youssef El-Mgariaf who attended together with representatives of 70 Italian companies and banks including Alitalia, Anas, Edison, Impregilo, Unicredit, Intesa San Paolo, Ferrovie dello Stato, Salini and Trevi.

The new Libya post-Gaddafi, of which Italy is the top commercial partner, is eyed by Italian entrepreneurs for new investments. However security remains a concern. The main challenge in order to boost the presence of Italian companies in Libya is connected ‘first of all to physical and judicial security’, said Terzi, as well as the re-activation of contracts, the payment of credit and war damages and reconstruction.

El-Mgariaf responded by saying that ‘security is at the top of our concerns and we have started to confront it with the help of the Italian Republic’ which was particularly helpful ‘in training security and armed forces’ and integrating insurgents.

‘We are negotiating with neighbouring countries for joint efforts in fighting arms, ammunitions, drugs and human trafficking with the help of the EU and countries in the region’, he continued. This has led to the initiative by Prime Minister Ali Zidan to travel to neighbouring countries, ‘seal borders’ and ‘intensify air surveillance’, continued Al-Mgariaf.

He also expressed the ‘gratitude of the Libyan people’ for Italy’s support to the revolution. The high level of the Libyan delegation which included six members of the government and Zidan’s planned visit to Rome on January 30 ‘show how important Italy is for the new Libya’, he also said, adding that ‘for the first time in more than 40 years we have an elected congress and transitional government ‘ engaged in building ‘a modern and democratic state with an agreed Constitution’. ‘We want the respect of human rights, starting from women’s rights, the separation of powers and a free and transparent information’, he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Pilgrimages: Strong Arm Cabinet-Travel Agencies

State requested to give 25% of market to privates

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 11 — Revenue prospects for those managing pilgrimages to holy Islam sites in Saudi Arabia, which Muslims must take at least once in a lifetime, are major as they have to be managed either by state companies or state-authorized bodies. If a Muslim faithful decides to take a pilgrimage (omra or hadj, small or big according to the time of the year), he or she must first present an application to be validated by a commission also on the basis of health in order to avoid, as often happens, that dozens of pilgrims die from fatigue and the Saudi heat.

In Tunisia this issue, which is much more attuned to economic interest than spiritual concerns, has led to a strong arm between travel agencies and the state which is weary of loosing control of this remunerative business. In a war of statements and proposals, the president of Tunisia’s association of travel agents, Mohamed Ali Toumi, has officially asked the state to leave 25 percent of this market — which totals some 15,000 pilgrims a year for Omra — to private entrepreneurs. The market could help crisis-stricken travel agencies after this business was taken from them in 1998 by then-dictator Ben Ali. Pilgrims are awaiting for an outcome in hopes that the return of private businesses can lower expenses which, with the devaluation of Tunisia’s dinar, have increased by up to 20% with some having to borrow money in order to undertake their mandatory pilgrimages.

Last year for the Omra, Tunisia’s religious affairs ministry which is in charge of pilgrimages, established prices which went from 2,500 dinars (some 1,250 euros) for the first 15 days of the holy month, to 3,100 (1,550 euros) for the second fortnight, sparking protests given the increase by up to 500 dinars, too much considering the average salary in Tunisia and the weak currency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Syrian Rebels Claim Capture of Strategic Military Base

Syrian rebel fighters said Friday they have captured a strategic northern military base used by the government to bomb opposition strongholds.

Rebel fighters and militants from various Islamic groups, including the jihadist al-Nusra Front, took part in the offensive, an opposition spokesman said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syria’s Rebels Form Own Secret Police

“The word security should mean the security of the people,” said an opposition activist using the name Abu Hisham in Aleppo.

“Unfortunately, Assad’s security bodies changed it to mean preserving the security of the government against the people,” he said. “Having this agency is important right now to track down the shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) and regime forces. We hope they remain up to the responsibility after toppling Assad.”

The rebel mukhabarat is keeping a close eye on the movements of Assad’s family, his army generals and senior officials who until now remain out of the insurgents’ reach, Haji said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Russia

Egyptian Man Urinates Into Eternal Flame in Russia’s Volgograd

In Russia’s Volgograd, a criminal case was filed against an Egyptian, who urinated on the Eternal Flame and beat an accidental eyewitness on New Year’s Eve, The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper wrote with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In the midst of New Year holidays, a drunk 29-year-old man was walking with friends in the center of Volgograd. He climbed up onto the pedestal and relieved himself in the Eternal Flame in the Valley of Heroes. A man was passing by at that moment, who made a remark to the foreign visitor. The Egyptian assaulted and beat the man. Other witnesses of the incident called the police, who arrested the malefactor.

“Having sobered up, he expressed remorse and explained that he was celebrating the New Year drinking absinthe with champagne and was thus not aware of what he was doing,” officials said.

The Egyptian man was sentenced to ten days of administrative arrest, and was released on January 10th. Law-enforcement authorities of the Volgograd region have opened a criminal case against the Egyptian citizen on two counts — “Desecrating the deceased and burial places” and “Intentional infliction of bodily harm.” Under these charges, the foreign citizen may face a fine of up to 40 thousand rubles ($1,300), mandatory corrective work, or up to three months in prison.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Taliban Welcome US ‘Zero Option’ On Troops

The Taliban have welcomed news from Washington that the US might withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan next year, saying the American public was pressing for an end to “this aimless war”.

The comment came ahead of a crucial meeting between President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House on Friday that is expected to focus on how many American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Indian Man Orders a Gold Shirt for New Year

(AGI) Rome — An Indian man ordered a pure gold shirt to be woven for New Year’s day. The shirt has Swarovski crystal buttons and cost 175,000 euros.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Far East

China is Massively Boosting Stockpiles of Rice, Iron Ore, Precious Metals, Dry Milk

If there were ever a sign that something is amiss, this may very well be it.

“United Nations agricultural experts are reporting confusion, after figures show that China imported 2.6 million tons of rice in 2012, substantially more than a four-fold increase over the 575,000 tons imported in 2011.”

The confusion stems from the fact that there is no obvious reason for vastly increased imports, since there has been no rice shortage in China. The speculation is that Chinese importers are taking advantage of low international prices, but all that means is that China’s own vast supplies of domestically grown rice are being stockpiled.

Why would China suddenly be stockpiling millions of tons of rice for no apparent reason?

Perhaps it’s related to China’s aggressive military buildup and war preparations in the Pacific and in central Asia.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Japan to Provide the Philippines With Ten Vessels to Patrol South China Sea

The ships are designed to hold in check Chinese claims over the Spratly Islands. They are expected to be classed as overseas development aid. For Shinzo Abe, Beijing is wrong to penalise Japanese companies operating in China.

Manila (AsiaNews) — Tokyo is offering Manila ten patrol vessels to boost the Filipino coastguard against threats from China in the South China Sea. The offer came during a visit to the Philippines by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. His Filipino counterpart, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, warned yesterday that China’s “very threatening” actions in the contested waters are a risk to Japan and others. Kishida also met Filipino President Benigno Aquino (pictured).

Sino-Japanese tensions have been rising in the past few months as both countries claim the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu for China). For years, Beijing has also confronted other nations in Southeast Asia (including Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan) over the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Japan is expected to class the offer of ten “multi-role response vessels” as overseas development aid with the first ship expected within 18 months. Some could even be built in the Philippines.

In recent years, Beijing has deployed it forces on some of the Spratly Islands, threatening other nations’ personnel and ships.

More recently, it has violated the territorial waters of the Senkaku/Diaoyu, and backed a patriotic campaign against Japanese companies operating in China.

For Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, “It was wrong for China, as a country responsible to the international community, to achieve a political goal by allowing damages to Japanese-affiliated companies and Japanese nationals that have made contributions to Chinese economy.”

Beijing’s action “will not only undermine the bilateral relationship, but it will also negatively affect China’s economy and society,” he added.

The hawkish Abe made the comments at a press conference, during which he also presented a US$ 224 billion stimulus package to boost Japan’s economy.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

France Displays Unhinged Hypocrisy as Bombs Fall on Mali

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.

TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe.

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya — providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government. As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become — a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria.

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Raid to Free Hostage Secret Agent Fails, Say Islamists

(AGI) Mogadishu — A French military raid to free a secret agent held hostage in Bulomarer, Somalia, has failed, Islamists report.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Two French Helicopters Brought Down in Mali

(AGI) Paris, Jan 12 — Two French Gazelle military helicopters returning to the Ouagadougou base after carrying out military operations against Salaphite rebels in Mali have been brought down, says a report posted on the Le Point news website.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

U. S Supports French Military Intervention in Mali

(AGI) — Washington, Jan 11 — The intervention of the French military alongside that of the Malian government has the support of the United States. The State Department has announced that Washington shares the French government’s goal of preventing the African nation from becoming a refuge for “terrorists.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Amid Federal Land Grab in Brazil, Whole Towns Evicted at Gunpoint

Federal Brazilian police and military personnel, some wearing United Nations insignia, are forcibly relocating whole communities in Brazil at gunpoint under the guise of returning huge tracts of land to a small group of Indians whose ancestors were allegedly there at some point. Thousands of local residents who have lived in the area for decades or were even born there, however, are fighting back, with critics saying the government’s actions smack of Stalinism and may constitute crimes against humanity.

Since the latest controversial operation began in November in the state of Mato Grosso, according to authorities and news reports, citizens opposed to being stripped of their property and homes have been doing everything in their power to stop the assault — setting up road blocks, battling heavily armed federal forces with stones, sticks, and Molotov cocktails, torching government trucks, protesting, and refusing to leave. Others cried as they tore down their own simple houses under armed guard.

Reporters on the scene and even federal lawmakers suspect bloodshed may be near. The government, however, has vowed to expel the communities at any cost, threatening those who refuse to comply with criminal charges and even confiscation of what little remains of their personal property. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and threats of real bullets and prosecution have all been employed to forcibly remove the locals, whom the government continues to dehumanize as “invaders” and “intruders.”

Critics and local residents have accused the government of Brazil of mass corruption, saying the end goal is to smash private property ownership and all potential resistance — starting with the rural population. They argue, among other points, that federal authorities are doing the bidding of foreign interests and are in cahoots with the UN, massive international corporations, Western-based non-governmental organizations like Greenpeace, and other interests.

[…]

Some 400,000 acres of land in the state of Mato Grosso with numerous towns — at least one of the communities in Estrela do Araguaia was home to an estimated 7,500 residents complete with churches, schools, hospitals, a graveyard and more, though the government claims the figures are smaller — was reportedly handed to a group of nearby Indians in the 1990s by official decree. Property owners’ deeds were nullified and no compensation was offered. Authorities began the forced relocation of all non-Indians late last year after giving existing residents just 30 days to vacate their land “voluntarily.” Most refused to go.

[…]

Many locals and even outside analysts question whether the land was really inhabited by Indians at all. Even some Xavante Indians have spoken out, explaining that their people always lived in another region with another climate and type of vegetation.

The UN and Greenpeace, though, were heavily involved in promoting the idea during the recent Rio+20 “sustainable development” conference in Rio de Janeiro, parading a group of Indians around the premises in between bizarre ceremonies worshiping “Mother Earth” and calls for a planetary regime. Greenpeace, of course, has an atrocious record when it comes to indigenous people and has destroyed more than a few Native American communities over the years under the guise of pseudo-environmentalism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Argentina’s Kirchner Visits Chavez in Cuba

(AGI) Buenos Aires — On Friday Argentina’s Kirchner visited Venezuelan president Chavez in Cuba as he recovers from cancer surgery.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Border Patrol Opens Unmanned Crossing on U.S.-Mexico Border

Get ready for the very first “unmanned” border station on the U.S.-Mexico border. Slated to open at the end of this month, the Big Bend National Park in Texas will be staffed by, you guessed it, computers.

The station will be equipped with machines that can scan citizenship documents and conduct live video interviews with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at a station in El Paso, Texas, Tech News Daily reports. While Mexican citizens will be able to use the crossing, U.S. officials maintain that Americans tourists to the national park are more likely to do so. When a similar CBP crossing was open in the same location more than a decade ago, few Mexicans used it. In 2002, because of increased security measures, U.S. officials closed the original crossing, forcing tourists to travel more than 100 miles to the next nearest crossing to get to Mexico, according to Nextgov.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Istanbul: Smuggler Capital for EU-Bound Migrants

Istanbul — Many of the groups which smuggle people into Europe are based in the migrant quarters of Turkey’s vast city on the EU border — Istanbul.

Kumkapi in Istanbul’s Fatih district on the Marmara Sea coast is home to French speaking African communities and to Somalians.

Further west, Afghans and Iranians cluster in Zeytinburnu. Iraqis and Nigerians live mostly in Kurtulus, near the tourist hotspot of Taksim Square. Syrians favour parts of Kucukcekmece.

In Kumkapi, one smuggler hotspot is a street which runs parallel to the Katip Kasim mosque.

Here, young African men work by pushing around heavy loads of various goods among run-down buildings, dozens of which house Russophone import-export firms.

A white Mercedes GL 320 with Ukrainian plates is parked outside the Blue Marmaray hotel. It is in the heart of the impoverished district, but a suite costs $600 a night. Further north and east, clothes shop windows display prices in Turkish and Russian.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Catholic Bishops Support Citizenship for Immigrants’ Kids

Church ‘encourages democracy, social cohesion’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 8 — The Catholic Church favours legislative changes that would give full citizenship rights to children born in Italy to immigrant parents, Father Giancarlo Perego said Tuesday.

Perego, director-general for migrants’ issues with the influential Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), spoke at a Vatican Radio presentation ahead of Sunday’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The Church, he said, favours “recognition of the right of citizenship for the children of immigrants born in Italy and, consequently, the right to vote in local elections…encouraging the growth of democracy and social cohesion”.

A significant percentage of Italy’s residents are immigrants, he said, and migrants to the country should therefore be seen as “a significant resource”.

Current Italian law dictates that only the children of Italian citizens can automatically become citizens themselves, while those born on Italian soil to non-Italian parents become eligible on their 18th birthday.

A famous example is Mario Balotelli, one of Italy’s biggest soccer stars and a forward on the national team, who was born in Italy to parents from Ghana.

The president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, has called the current system “pure folly” and a bill to change the law was submitted to the House this summer.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Souleiman: Solicitor’s Firm in Sham Marriage Scam

Islington, Enfield, Wembley, North London; Hatfield, Herts — A solicitor used his law firm to arrange hundreds of sham marriages in an immigration scam spanning nearly a decade, a court heard today (Fri). Tevfick Souleiman, 39, and his associates created scores of forged documents so migrants could get permission to live and work in the UK, it is alleged. They paid for brides and husbands to be flown into the UK from Eastern Europe and created bogus accounts of their relationships with clients, the Old Bailey was told.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Can America Survive if Americans No Longer Agree on a Core Set of Shared Values?

What does America stand for? That question is a lot more complicated than you might think. Our Founding Fathers established a Republic that was based on a set of shared values that were embodied in the text of the U.S. Constitution. But today, many of our politicians openly disregard the Constitution whenever they want and it has become fashionable to mock the U.S. Constitution. For example, the New York Times recently published a piece by Georgetown University Professor Louis Michael Seidman entitled “Let’s Give Up On The Constitution” in which he publicly called the Constitution “archaic” and “downright evil”. This is a man that has been teaching constitutional law to the next generation of lawyers at one of the top universities in the nation for nearly 40 years. Unfortunately, Seidman is not an aberration. The truth is that law schools all over America are absolutely packed with professors that teach that we should consider the U.S. Constitution a “living, breathing document” that must “evolve” as society evolves. They also teach that when we find something in the Constitution that does not work for us today that we should just ignore it. In fact, in his New York Times article Seidman insisted that “constitutional disobedience” is “as old as the Republic”. But if we can just ignore the U.S. Constitution whenever we want, where does that leave us? Should we be able to ignore all laws when they are not convenient for us?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Supreme Court Says Gays Can Have Custody of Children

Challenge on rights of mother living with another woman rejected

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Italy’s supreme Court of Cassation ruled on Friday that there is no reason why gay people cannot have custody of children.

The Cassation, whose decisions set precedents, gave the ruling in rejecting a challenge from a man against another court’s decision to give exclusive custody of a child to his former partner.

His challenge was based on the fact that his ex-partner had gone to live with a female social worker who helped the woman get off drugs at a rehabilitation centre. The man, a migrant living in Brescia of Muslim faith, argued that it was damaging for the child to grow up in a gay environment.

The Cassation said the challenge was not based on “scientific certainty or data from experience”, but on “the mere prejudice that growing up with gay parents damages the balanced development of the child, taking for granted what has yet to be proven: that such family environments are damaging”.

Gay rights groups hailed the ruling as a major breakthrough and some said it had implications for the issue of whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.

Some centre-right politicians criticising the decision as “dangerous”, saying the court had overstepped the mark with the reasons given for its decision, arguing that such considerations are the prerogative of parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Self-Esteem Fad Harms Student Achievement; Teaching Self-Esteem is Misguided

Self-control, not self-esteem, leads to academic success, researchers have concluded. Indeed, teaching self-esteem actually reduces student achievement and undermines the work ethic of some students. “In one study, university students who’d earned C, D and F grades ‘received encouragement aimed at boosting their self-worth.’ They did worse than students with similar grades whose self-esteem had been left alone. ‘An intervention that encourages [students] to feel good about themselves, regardless of work, may remove the reason to work hard,’“ notes “Roy Baumeister, a Florida State professor who’s studied the topic for years. ‘Self-control is much more powerful and well-supported as a cause of personal success,’ he says.”

Last January, the Washington Post ran a news story about the failure of self-esteem to improve educational achievement: due to the self-esteem fad, American students’ self-esteem outstripped their achievement, which fell compared to their international peers. U.S. eighth-graders did worse in math than their peers in countries like Singapore and South Korea, but felt better about themselves and their ability in math. “‘We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,’ Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. ‘That has backfired.’“ Yet, “for decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement.” That false “theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies” and time-consuming feel-good exercises in our schools.

[Return to headlines]

Why Americans Cannot Discipline Their Children

The ultimate reason that Americans are unable to discipline their children is that they have no authority over them. The American state, together with private industry, especially the “helping professions,” have usurped their authority in loco parentis, thus empowering physicians, psychologists, judges, social workers, dentists and other health workers by, in effect, reducing people to parental incompetence. American children run amuck, throw tantrums in the “terrible twos” and “fearsome fours,” and commit indignities against their parents and maliciously disobey them such as to shock the rest of the world. A Eda Leshan in 1985 published a book called When Your Child Drives You Crazy. Children’s actual socialization comes from the ever-present baby sitter, television, and the school, neighborhood pals and their interaction at play.

American parents are reduced to their entertainers, meal tickets and gift givers; in the U.S. the glorification of consumption and the warfare of status materialism see the parents constantly showering their “kids” with presents, all too often in place of true love and affection. The mother resorts to shrewishness and constant nagging to obtain minimal obedience from her children, while the deadbeat American husband and father has emotionally abandoned the family and takes little part in family life. A 1971 study by college psychologists of fathers in the Boston area found that they spent a grand total of 37 seconds a day on average spending time with their infants. Parents do not guide, comfort, govern, teach, nurse, control, restrain or mentor their children, although they are fond of giving them a good teasing now and then.

Sadly, the author has observed thousands of times children crying and reaching out in misery and just begging for comfort and reassurance from their parents, who stand there helplessly as if paralyzed or moronic as to what to do, or they insensitively without any insight scold their offspring for being “cry babies.” The bewildered parents simply do not know what to do, and the surfeit of advice from so-called experts, which has increased exponentially since 1945, has ameliorated the problem not at all; mothers who diligently study Chilton-like manuals to learn “maternal instinct” still are incompetent, and the malaise has only intensified after that year.

[Return to headlines]

General

Wood From Land Feeds Deep Sea Life

Scattered throughout the world’s oceans are “wooden cities of life,” providing oases for drifting microbes and small animals, a new study has found.

These sunken chunks of wood, along with other organic material like dead whales, may act as stepping stones for a variety of bizarre creatures that also thrive near hydrothermal vents, where super-heated water spews out of the seafloor, said Christina Bienhold, a researcher at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

In a recent study, Bienhold’s team placed logs on the bottom of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and found that a wide variety of life sprung up there in the span of only a year, including newfound species of aquatic worms, she told OurAmazingPlanet.

The results of the study, published earlier this month in the online journal PLoS ONE, were especially surprising given that this area is one of the most food-deprived spots in the world’s oceans. It thus wouldn’t necessarily be expected to harbor a great diversity of life, Bienhold said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20130111

Financial Crisis
» 1 in 4 Greeks Below Poverty Line
» Italian-German Bond Spread Drops to 248 Points
» Italy: Monti Calls for Cuts to Public Salaries, MPs
» Italy Improves Net Debt to GDP in First 9 Months of 2012
» Italy: ‘McDonald’s Temp Job Better Than No Job at All’ Fornero Says
» Rehn: Difficult Months Ahead, Recovery Only in 2014
» Taiwan: Despite Year-End Bonus Cuts, Economy Still Strong
» Three-Year Italian Bonds Drop to Lowest Level Since 2010
 
USA
» “Fundamental Transformation” To Chill the Blood
» Congress Must Hold Hearings Into the Al Jazeera Deal
» Eliminate ATF Instead of Cutting National Security Budgets, Say Officials
» Illinois Swears in Three Legislators Facing Criminal Charges
» Is This the Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?
» It’s YOUR Constitution Obama is Shredding
» Nationwide Ammo Shortage So Severe That Even Cops Can’t Buy Bullets; Ammo Rationing Imminent
» NRA: White House Has ‘An Agenda to Attack the Second Amendment’
» Obama Rubbing Our Noses in His Victory and Radicalism
» Sheriffs Can Block Federal Gun Control
» The Second Amendment
» The Video That Troubles a South Florida Jewish Federation
» When Kids and Guns Mix
 
Europe and the EU
» Alitalia: Les Echos, Etihad Aims to be Minority Shareholder
» Copper-Wire Thief Electrocuted in Sicily
» France: Nicolas Sarkozy to be Investigated on Corruption Charges Over ‘Karachi Affair’ Arms Deals to Pakistan
» Germany: Vaccinated Children Five Times More Prone to Disease Than Unvaccinated Children
» Ireland: Black Gold Fever Spreading in Cork
» Italy: Undertaker Providing Muslim Funeral Services Opens in Padua
» Italy: Milan Prosecutor Calls for 9-Year Prison Term for Politician
» Italy: Soccer: Five More Ided for Racist Chants Against Ac Milan
» Italy: Court Rejects Berlusconi Claim of Bias Over Alimony Payment
» Italy: Letta Says Victorious PD Would Seek Monti’s Support
» Italy: Monti Says ‘Premature’ To Discuss Alliance With PD
» More Rapes in Belgium
» Norway: Anger as Police Drop Breivik Response Probe
» Sicily Blocks Construction of US Defense Satellite Base
» Slovenia: Bad Investments, Fears Over Croatia’s Competition
» Spain: Catalonia Prepares ‘New EU State’
» UK: Black Teenager Punches Woman After She Calls Him a ‘Smelly Nigerian’ In Latest Shocking Racist Footage Filmed on the Tube
» UK: Don’t Worry Folks — Accused Terrorist Back at Work as a Postie
» UK: Enough to Make You Shudder! Temperatures Set for Sudden Plunge to Minus 10c… As Average Heating Bill for the Elderly Soars to £1,350
» UK: Fishermead ‘Drug Turf’ Shootings: Teenagers’ Murderers Convicted
» UK: Jimmy Savile Scandal: Report Reveals Extent of Abuse
» UK: MPs Call for ‘32% Salary Increase’
» UK: More Than 1,000 Women Suffer Sex Attack Every Day, Report Says
» UK: Man Convicted of Raping Woman as She Slept
» UK: New Year Attack at Railway Station
» UK: Planning Minister Challenges National Trust Boss in Furious Row Over Housebuilding Plans
» UK: Video: The Feral Kids Who Terrorise Our Streets: A-Level Students Filming Skating Video Are ‘Jumped’ By Foul-Mouthed Gang of Eight-Year-Old Thieves
» UK: While Woman’s Car Was Torched Police Trawled Her Laptop for Evidence of Facebook Cybercrime
» White Britons Are Now a Minority in Leicester, Luton and Slough and Birmingham is Set to Follow by End of Decade
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Antiquities Minister, Visits to Museum Plummet
» Libya: El-Mansuri: Italy and Its Investors Are Nearest to Us
 
Middle East
» Iraq: Mgr Sako: Torn and Violent, Iraq is in an “Arab Winter” For Christians and Muslims
» Syria: NGO: Military Airport in North Seized by Jihadists
» Syria: Israel Walls Itself in, Close Eye on Chemical Weapons
» UAE: Dubai Aiming to be Islamic Finance Capital
 
South Asia
» Catholics in Bangladesh Hit by Land Expropriation and Forced Conversions to Islam
 
Latin America
» Honduras Ambassador Forced to Resign Over Orgy in Colombia
 
Immigration
» Apartheid in Italy? A Sicilian City’s Proposal for Immigrant-Only Buses
» Indian Christian Calls on Saudi Arabia to Recognise Migrants’ Religious Rights
» UK: Solicitors ‘Ran Immigration Scam Arranging Thousands of Sham Marriages by Submitting Touching Love Stories About Couples Who’D Only Just Met’
 
Culture Wars
» Germany: Kids’ Classics Get a Politically Correct Makeover
» Immigrant Mothers in Britain Could be Aborting Unwanted Girls, Ministers Admit After Study of Birth Rates
» Worshiping at the Temple of the Vagina (Part II)
 
General
» Getting Murdered: Where in the World?

Financial Crisis

1 in 4 Greeks Below Poverty Line

But Piraeus container traffic rose in 2012

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Some see a glimmer of hope on the horizon in Greece due to signs of economic recovery, but the statistics (for 2011, but those for 2012 may be even worse) show a country still being pummeled by hardship. Some 3.403 billion people in Greece, 24.8% of a total population of 11 million, are below the poverty line or in a condition defined as “social exclusion”. These figures are from a study carried out by Greece’s statistics service ELSTAT. In 2010 there had instead been 3.031 billion: thus, 400,000 more people have slid into poverty. Moreover, the number of people living in households in which none of the members have full-time employment rose to 979,000 in 2011, compared with 619,000 in 2010. The figures reflect the results of economic policies implemented in the eighteen months after the signing of the first Memorandum between the Greek government and the troika (IMF, EU and ECB), during which harsh austerity measures were brought in, leading to a reduction in the income of Greek citizens. A few weeks after the go-ahead to the latest aid tranche, and with speculation on Greece’s possible exit from the Eurozone having fallen by the wayside, some are cautiously optimistic: like Charles Dallara, head of the Institute of International Finance (IIF, which represented Greece’s international creditor banks in the talks which led to a reduction in Greek debt), who feels Greece will return to the markets earlier than originally predicted as a result of the consolidation of the country’s credibility and the solidarity shown by the eurozone and the EU.

In an interview published in Ta Nea, Dallara said that investors would once again start looking towards Greece “not only for financial investment but also to invest in the real economy”. And it is also from the real economy that some signs of hope have come. A substantial increase in cargo traffic in Pier I of the Greek port Piraeus (publicly owned and managed) was seen in 2012 compared with 2011 figures. According to the data released today by the port authority, Pier I handled 625,914 TEU (unit used for container calculations) in 2012, compared with 490,904 in 2011, a 27.5% rise. An increase of 12% was seen in container storage space of the pier. Piraeus’s Pier II is successfully managed by the Chinese company Cosco, which is also planning to build a third pier.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italian-German Bond Spread Drops to 248 Points

Lowest since July 2011

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — For the first time since July 2011, the spread between Italian and German bonds dropped to 248 basis points Friday. Yields on Italian 10-year bonds fell to 4.08%, their lowest since autumn 2010.

The spread is a key measure of Italy’s borrowing costs and of investor confidence in the country’s ability to weather the eurozone crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Calls for Cuts to Public Salaries, MPs

Number of lawmakers should be halved, says outgoing premier

(ANSA) — Rome, January 8 — Italy should cut civil service salaries and slash the number of lawmakers in parliament by half, outgoing Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday.

“It’s necessary to touch (public) salaries, without falling into the demagogy that stops the state hiring people with very high capabilities, who should be ripped from the market” Monti told Mediaset television.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Improves Net Debt to GDP in First 9 Months of 2012

Statistics agency says Italian net debt levels improving

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — Italy’s net debt-to-GDP ratio improved in the first three quarters of last year, compared with the previous year, the national statistics agency said Wednesday.

Net debt to GDP stood at 3.7% in the first nine months of 2012, an improvement of 0.5% over the same period in the previous year, Istat said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘McDonald’s Temp Job Better Than No Job at All’ Fornero Says

Labor minister defends fast-food giant’s expansion in Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, January 8 — A temporary job at McDonald’s is better than no job at all, Italian Labor Minister Elsa Fornero said Tuesday, responding to criticism over the American fast-food giant’s plans to create 3,000 jobs over the next three years in Italy. “I like all businesses that are actively working to create jobs,” she told Italian radio.

The plan, which would mostly include part-time and temporary positions, came under fire Monday from Italy’s powerful left-wing labor confederation CGIL. “Everyone would prefer a long-term contract job,” added Fornero, “but the circumstances facing businesses are difficult in this climate of great uncertainty. “Even a temporary job is better than no job at all”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Rehn: Difficult Months Ahead, Recovery Only in 2014

Euro zone economy still weak

(ANSAmed) — Brussels — The European Union’s Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Friday that the euro zone’s economy ‘is still weak’ and the months ahead will be difficult. Citizens will continue to feel the impact of the crisis and ‘the recovery will only take place in 2014’, he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Taiwan: Despite Year-End Bonus Cuts, Economy Still Strong

As government seeks savings, private sector and opposition criticise the privileges of public servants and employees in state-run enterprises. Taiwan’s per capita GDP is now higher than that of France, Finland and Japan. Opposition plans a rally this Sunday to protest budget.

Taipei (AsiaNews) — The decision by Taiwan’s parliament (??? or Legislative Yuan) to cut year-end bonuses (thirteenth month) to public servants and employees in state-owned companies has led to protests.

Currently, employees of state-run businesses can get maximum year-end bonuses equal to 4.6 months of their salaries, including 2.6 month for performance.

Now lawmakers set a 1.2 month bonus cap, slashing the 2.6 months’ bonus, whilst maintaining the regular 2 month bonus, for a total of 3.2 month year-end bonus.

The cap was agreed to during negotiations for the 2013 budget. Opposition party Taiwan Solidarity Union (??????) had called for the elimination of year-end bonuses for underperforming state corporations. During the debate, a compromise was reached to reduce the bonuses whilst acknowledging the work of employees in profitable state-run enterprises.

Legislators also gave their nod to the proposal to limit year-end bonuses for retired civil servants, teachers and servicemen so that they would only apply to those with monthly pensions of less than NT$ 20,000 (US$ 690) and the families of those injured or killed on duty.

For trade unions, bonus cuts are an insult to employees. For the past week, they have protested insisting that underperformance cannot be pinned on employees since their employers follow government directives. If anyone is to blame, it is the government.

Private sector workers, including private school teachers, disagree, saying that public servants and employees in state-run corporations have privileges that they can only dream of.

For this reason, the Democratic Progressive Party (?????), the main opposition party, believes that state companies like Taiwan Power Co (??) and the Taiwan Water Corp (??) cannot afford year-end or productivity bonuses given their recent losses.

The opposition has called on the government to change its 2013 budget and plans a mass rally next Sunday.

The government said it would respect parliament’s decision but has called for a more targeted approach that would distinguish enterprises that are performing well from those that are not.

Despite these problems and high real estate prices, a burden especially heavy for young couples, Taiwan’s economy has shown a remarkable capacity to weather crises, as it did during the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the world-wide financial crisis of 2007, thanks to its export-oriented production, high tech and greater innovation capacity.

Except for the recession of 2001, and despite massive Taiwanese investments in mainland China, Taiwan has shown tremendous growth in recent years, hitting a record 10 per cent in 2010.

This has given the island-nation a per capita GDP that is higher than that of France, Finland and Japan with one of the lowest unemployment levels in the world.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Three-Year Italian Bonds Drop to Lowest Level Since 2010

Another sign borrowing costs easing

(ANSA) — Rome, January 11 — Three-year Italian bonds reached their lowest level since March 2010 on Friday when a successful Treasury auction gave further evidence that the country’s borrowing costs are easing.

The Treasury sold 3.5 billion BTP bonds that are set to mature in December 2015 at an average interest rate of 1.85%, compared to 2.50% at the last equivalent auction in December.

The Treasury also auctioned off 1.5 billion euros’ worth of bonds set to mature in 2017. The average interest on the bonds maturing in June 2017 was 2.17%, while it was 2.34% for those maturing in October that year.

The spread between 10-year Italian bonds and German Bunds fell 20 basis points to 259 on Thursday, its lowest since July 2011. The spread is a key measure of Italy’s borrowing costs and of investor confidence in the country’s ability to weather the eurozone crisis.

It went over 500 points with yields of around 7%, which are considered unsustainable in the long term, at the peak of the eurozone crisis in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

USA

“Fundamental Transformation” To Chill the Blood

(ERIK RUSH) During an ABC Nightline interview broadcast on December 26, 2012, President Barack Obama said that one benefit of his re-election was the ability “to have men with guns around at all times.” This week, Obama signed a bill extending armed Secret Service protection for former US presidents to the remainder of their natural lives.

I’m sure the irony of all this juxtaposed against his ongoing effort to disarm law-abiding Americans has not escaped the reader.

On January 3, Keith Ratliff, a 32 year-old firearms enthusiast, was found fatally shot in the head in his Carnesville, Georgia home. Police are investigating the case as a homicide. Ratliff’s YouTube channel for fellow firearm enthusiasts was ranked as one of the top 10 channels on YouTube, with 3.4 million subscribers and more than 537 million views.

Although I have no proof, my inclination is to suspect that the Obama administration or one of its surrogates is responsible for Ratliff’s death, the first of many such executions that will take place in order to silence individuals whom the government deems a threat to their oligarchical collectivist agenda. There; I’ve said it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Congress Must Hold Hearings Into the Al Jazeera Deal

If Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) lets the Al Jazeera-Al Gore deal go through without scrutiny, then every broadcast entity or communications facility in America is ripe for the plucking by any of our nation’s enemies and adversaries.

For those who haven’t been paying attention lately, the government of Qatar has announced a deal through Al Jazeera with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore for his Current TV cable channel, in order to transform it into an arm of its Jihadist or “Terror TV” network, once known as a mouthpiece for mass murderer Osama bin Laden. They are planning to call it “Al Jazeera America,” when the oil money for the transaction is coming from abroad. This is part and parcel of the deception, which is designed to make it appear as though Al Jazeera is as American as apple pie and simply has a foreign-sounding name.

To be sure, the deal was not technically announced by Qatar, a Middle Eastern dictatorship where freedom of the press is not permitted. Instead, Al Jazeera made the announcement. But that is part of the deception. Al Jazeera is an arm of the Qatar regime and is not in any sense of the term an “independent” news organization. It is government-funded with “advertising” from such entities as Qatar Airways, the national airline partly owned by the regime. Qatar and Al Jazeera are one and the same.

The purpose of this transaction is to soften the American people up for more Middle East revolution, including within the borders of the U.S. Dr. Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, supports an investigation of the deal and says, “Al Jazeera weaves the ideological structure and combustible angers from which Jihadi recruits eventually emerge.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Eliminate ATF Instead of Cutting National Security Budgets, Say Officials

Several well-regarded law-enforcement officials and gun-rights activists strongly suggested that President Barack Obama and lawmakers get rid of the scandal-prone Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives instead of cutting national security agencies and budgets including the U.S. military.

“The House of Representatives should slash the budget of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or simply eliminate the agency,” gun rights expert John M. Snyder said from his office in Bethesda, Md.

“This would be a good first step as sensible U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators work to curtail expenditure of the irresponsible federal establishment,” the former NRA editor stated.

The ATF has been on a collision course with the House of Representatives for months. Attorney General Eric Holder remains under a contempt resolution from the House for his refusal to cooperate with the House in the production of documents associated with the ATF Fast and Furious international firearms scandal. ATF is part of the Justice Department, according to the House of Representatives’ reports and documents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Illinois Swears in Three Legislators Facing Criminal Charges

Illinois’ newest General Assembly began Wednesday with the swearing into office of not one, but three Democrat legislators facing criminal charges. One might expect in a state with such a history of sending governors to prison, there would be a real initiative underway to stop the corruption, or at least to stop electing the corrupt. But in Illinois, there is no such luck, or sense.

[Comment: kak•is•toc•ra•cy n. pl. kak•is•toc•ra•cies Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Is This the Scandal That Will Bring Obama Down?

It’s even worse than we previously thought. A retired four-star admiral is now claiming that Barack Obama intentionally conspired with America’s enemies to stage a bogus attack and the kidnapping of an American ambassador so he could “negotiate” the release of a “hostage” and bolster his mediocre approval ratings just prior to the election?

The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: “the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi… was the result of a bungled abduction attempt… the first stage of an international prisoner exchange… that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheik’…”

But something went horribly wrong with Obama’s “October Surprise.” Although the Obama Administration intentionally gutted security at the consulate prior to the staged kidnapping, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty disobeyed direct orders to stand down, saved American lives, single-handedly killed scores of attackers…and the attackers, believing that the Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

It’s YOUR Constitution Obama is Shredding

The United States of America was formed on the foundations recorded in our Declaration of Independence. As acknowledged by even our federal government archives, “Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument.”

That document and the foundation of our nation has but only three fundamental precepts —

1.   “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
2.   “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”
3.   “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

It is important to note that in the original handwritten document, the term used to describe these rights is “inalienable” — not to be confused with “unalienable” used in many reproductions of the Declaration today.

While these two words are similar, they are not the same, or they were not the same at the time the word inalienable was written into the Declaration. Whereas unalienable simply meant — “Not alienable; that cannot be alienated; that may not be transferred; as unalienable rights.” — the word inalienable is much more specific and restrictive — “Unalienable; that cannot be legally or justly alienated or transferred to another. The dominions of a king are inalienable. All men have certain natural rights which are inalienable. The estate of a minor is inalienable, without a reservation of the right of redemption, or the authority of the legislature.”

The entire foundation for our Charters of Freedom is based not upon man-made laws, but upon the inalienable God given Rights which exist in Natural Law, and remain forever beyond the scope and authority of the legislature. Our inalienable rights are “endowed by our Creator,” and protected by the Charters of Freedom.

In essence, inalienable natural rights are beyond the authority of the legislature, the only branch of government entrusted by the people with the authority to make law. It is upon these foundational inalienable rights that the US Constitution was drafted and adopted by the early colonies in 1787.

[…]

A constitutional government is a limited government, which explains why many anti-American politicians and law professors want to terminate the Constitution, unleashing an unbridled government power operating without and at odds with the consent of the governed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Nationwide Ammo Shortage So Severe That Even Cops Can’t Buy Bullets; Ammo Rationing Imminent

(NaturalNews) One of the great myths of modern society is that the police are heavily armed and have both ammo and personnel in huge numbers. In reality, it’s quite the opposite: police and sheriffs are dangerously under-staffed all across the country in nearly every city and town. Furthermore, severe budget cuts have left law enforcement with dwindling ammunition supplies. In some departments, it’s so bad that nearly the only ammo available is what officers are carrying on their duty belts.

And now it has just gotten far worse.

Thanks to outrageous Sandy Hook fear mongering by the mainstream media and political operatives like Feinstein, Obama, Cuomo and others, the American people have been rushing out to buy up every bullet, every rifle, every handgun and very nearly every gun-related product in the country. This is all because people like Biden, Obama and Feinstein are openly declaring war on the Second Amendment and threatening to outlaw or restrict firearms, magazines and ammunition.

[…]

It’s not good. Not unless you’re a gang member just waiting to commit mayhem all over town.

If gang bangers ever figure out that the cops are out of bullets, it will be all-out war in many U.S. cities, including Miami, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and NYC. A disarmed police force is no police force at all, since it’s only really the threat of high-velocity lead that actually stops bad people from doing bad things. (Criminals don’t care if you ask nice. They are only motivated by their own survival.)

It also means that the feds will have a strong ammunition advantage over local cops and sheriffs, since the U.S. federal government has been stockpiling 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition domestically, right here in the United States. Why does this matter? Here’s why:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NRA: White House Has ‘An Agenda to Attack the Second Amendment’

UPI — National Rifle Association accused the White House of having “an agenda to attack the Second Amendment” and vowed to lobby Congress to stop U.S. gun limits.

At the same time, Vice President Joe Biden said the recommendations he makes to the White House would “relate primarily to gun ownership, and the type of weapons we own,” adding there was growing support for tighter background checks on gun purchasers, restrictions on high-capacity clips and other moves.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Rubbing Our Noses in His Victory and Radicalism

(DAVID LIMBAUGH) Hey, folks, remember the good old days when candidate Barack Obama at least pretended to be bipartisan and conciliatory? Now it’s as if he’s on a mission to prove he was faking it.

Obama is behaving like a bitter ex-spouse who knows all our hot buttons and delights in pushing them. He is governing by crisis, fear, alienation, cronyism and anti-constitutional fiat. He is openly flaunting his militant radicalism, as if he’s trying to provoke us — and his second term hasn’t even begun.

He is horrifying all Americans who have the slightest concern about our deficits and debt, refusing to address them, demonizing and obstructing those who are, and flagrantly lying about both by pretending he’s the one tending to our national solvency.

Though he never would have been foolish enough to make a major production of the gun issue during the campaign, he is exploiting the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., to press for stringent gun control measures. He’s playing his leftist constituents’ emotions like a fiddle, encouraging them to ignore the facts and statistics and join him in imposing measures that violate the Second Amendment.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sheriffs Can Block Federal Gun Control

The county sheriff is the highest governmental authority in his county

“A high-profile former sheriff who once sued the U.S. government over its gun regulations — and won — says it is the local sheriff who will have to defend Americans when and if the feds starting banning and confiscating guns.

Richard Mack, a former sheriff in Graham County, Ariz., joined with then-Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz in a lawsuit against Washington when Bill Clinton demanded sheriff’s enforce provisions of the Brady Bill gun control law.

He won. And since then he’s been at the front of a movement that highlights the responsibility of local sheriffs.

Now, as Washington gears up to consider imperious plans to limit guns, require fingerprinting and registration, impose additional taxes and fees, ban particular features or functions outright, and even confiscate weapons of self-defense, Mack has told WND that there’s hope remaining in local law enforcement.

It’s not complicated, he said.

“Gun control is illegal and it’s against the Constitution,” he said. “What people don’t realize is that the Second Amendment was designed to protect us from the power of the federal government.”

He said he would expect sheriffs across the country to defend the rights of ordinary Americans.” (From an Article by Michael Carl at WND)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Second Amendment

As the Vice President completes his report recommending to the President new federal legislation that will affect gun ownership, he likely will spend little, if any, time evaluating the constitutional limits on the power of the government to impose the prior restraints he thinks appropriate. We should be mindful of the Second Amendment’s intended meaning and should respect its Supreme law limits on the exercise of government power. The text of the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As explained below, the Second Amendment arose as a protection for the natural right of defense, both individual self-defense and collective defense, against acts in violation of individual right, acts of oppression, and insurrection and other attempts to subvert governments protective of liberty. Under Lockean rights theory, accepted as foundational by the founding generation, one may never be forced to part with the basic right of self-defense, particularly because, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, insufferable governments that would deprive people of their rights to life, liberty, and property may give rise to a right of revolution. As the Declaration states: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it . . .”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Video That Troubles a South Florida Jewish Federation

Credit South Florida Jewish activist Alan Bergstein for upending the leadership of the South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation. He has made them uneasy with an attack video accusing the chair of its Jewish Council on Community Relations (JCRC) Rabbi David Steinhardt of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton of denying the sovereignty of Israel over Jerusalem its capital. In Late December 2012 Steinhardt signed a J Street sponsored petition protesting construction of Jewish homes there.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

When Kids and Guns Mix

We all know what can happen when kids and guns mix. And today I will tell you some stories about that very thing. The kids’ names were Kendra and Alyssa, and then there was the 11-year-old boy whose name we just don’t know. What we do know is that they lived in places called Bryan County, Albuquerque, and Palmview. We know that guns were in their homes—and that something horrible befell them.

Last year, 12-year-old Oklahoman Kendra St. Clair was home alone, unsupervised. At some point she accessed her mother’s handgun—a .40-caliber Glock. Then Kendra pulled the trigger.

And that bullet tore into flesh.

You probably know the rest of the story.

Or maybe not.

The bullet tore into the flesh of a 32-year-old home invader, causing him to flee. Kendra was left scared and crying, but unscathed.

The story of Albuquerque 11-year-old Alyssa Gutierrez turned out differently. Three teenage burglars broke into her home, but they fled after she merely grabbed her mother’s rifle. No one was hurt, but the criminals were caught.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alitalia: Les Echos, Etihad Aims to be Minority Shareholder

Operation welcome by Air France-Klm

(ANSAmed) — Paris — Abu Dhabi’s airline Ethiad ‘is allegedly ready to buy stakes of some minority shareholders’ in Alitalia who ‘wish to disengage themselves when the current pact expires on January 12’ French daily Les Echos reported Tuesday quoting confidential sources. The operation, according to the newspaper, would be welcome by Air France-Klm ‘which owns 25% of the Italian company but does not have the means to buy off the rest’. The French-Dutch group, whose good relations with Ethiad have led to a cooperation accord at the end of 2012, ‘would thus avoid the risk of seeing part of Alitalia’s capital go into hostile hands while awaiting to be well off enough to make an acquisition offer in cash or a shares exchange in 2014 or 2015’. For the moment, Les Echos reported, none of the airlines mentioned released a comment on the issue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Copper-Wire Thief Electrocuted in Sicily

Romanian dies of burns

(ANSA) — Naro (Agrigento), January 4 — A Romanian national died Thursday night after being electrocuted while trying to steal copper wiring in Sicily’s Agrigento area. The man, a resident of Canicatti’, was taken to hospital by his three accomplices — including his brother — but died later from his injuries.

The survivors were reported for aggravated theft and police have searched their homes. Recently there have been regular reports of copper cable theft in the Agrigento area, with power cables managed by electricity company ENEL and telephone companies being the main targets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Nicolas Sarkozy to be Investigated on Corruption Charges Over ‘Karachi Affair’ Arms Deals to Pakistan

Nicolas Sarkozy was plunged into yet another corruption scandal today following allegations that he tried to interfere in an arms sales enquiry while president of France.

The 57-year-old is said to have violated a confidentiality law when dealing with the so-called ‘Karachi Affair’.

It involves a 2002 terrorist bombing in the Pakistani city that killed 11 French engineers — allegedly because kickbacks over submarine sales by France to Pakistan had not been paid.

Money linked to the arms deals is said to have been used to help fund the 1995 presidential election campaign of former French prime minister Édouard Balladur — a campaign for which Mr Sarkozy was spokesman.

Mr Sarkozy enjoyed presidential immunity from prosecution at the time, but three judges have now ruled that he should be investigated for allegedly interfering in the Karachi probe.

‘The act of permitting the release of information concerning on-going investigations does not enter into the functions of the president,’ the three judges said in their own official ruling.

Two former close aides to Sarkozy have already been charged by judges investigating the alleged Karachi kickbacks.

Mr Sarkozy allegedly authorised the creation of a shell company used to channel kickbacks to Mr Balladur.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Vaccinated Children Five Times More Prone to Disease Than Unvaccinated Children

(NaturalNews) An ongoing study out of Germany comparing disease rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated children points to a pretty clear disparity between the two groups as far as illness rates are concerned. As reported by the group Health Freedom Alliance, children who have been vaccinated according to official government schedules are up to five times more likely to contract a preventable disease than children who developed their own immune systems naturally without vaccines.

Released as its own preliminary study back in September 2011, the survey includes data on 8,000 unvaccinated children whose overall disease rates were compared to disease rates among the general population, the vast majority of which has been vaccinated. And in every single disease category, unvaccinated children fared far better than vaccinated children in terms of both disease prevalence and severity. In other words, the evidence suggests that vaccines are neither effective nor safe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Black Gold Fever Spreading in Cork

La Vanguardia

Ireland, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1, may have found a way out of the crisis thanks to off-shore petrol. The idea has taken hold in Dublin since a bout of “black gold fever in Cork” notes Spanish daily La Vanguardia caused by the discovery of oil deposits in the Irish Sea. Ireland’s second largest city is now “awaiting an economic boom” with the idea “fostering dreams” in a country deeply hit by the crisis, the paper says, adding —

Representatives from ExxonMobil, Texaco and other major oil companies lunch in the city’s pubs and restaurants on the banks of the River Lee, just like, in Dublin, where the members of The Troika [Ireland’s creditors, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank]. But in this case, the intention is to invest and not to dictate their lending conditions.

The deposit, called the Barryfoe Field, is estimated at 280 million barrels worth €30 billion. There is only one detail yet to be resolved — where to find the €1.5 billion needed to exploit the deposit. Gathering these funds is the goal of a company called Providence, created by the local tycoon and former rugby player Tony O’Reilly. He says he wants to make Cork “one of the most prosperous cities in Europe”. La Vanguardia says —

In the past, oil deposits were found in the Irish Sea, but their high exploitation costs made them unprofitable. The situation today is much more favourable because of the development of cheaper extraction techniques, the rise in the price of petrol and the low taxes on foreign firms investing in Ireland (the country has the lowest corporate tax rate in Europe, a constant source of friction with Brussels). Cork, the European headquarters for Apple and the site of US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer’s Viagra factory hopes to move to the next level and join the major league economic and financial big hitters. It hopes to become to Ireland what Aberdeen has become to Scotland and that the petrol from the Irish Sea will provide the same benefits as that provided by the North Sea. With [global] oil use reaching 88 million barrels per day and with a thirst for it so insatiable that environmental considerations are unable to quench it, this is not just wishful thinking.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Italy: Undertaker Providing Muslim Funeral Services Opens in Padua

Business caters to growing Islamic population in Italy

(ANSA) — Padua, January 4 — Muslims living in northern Italy now have easier access to funeral services that comply with the Islamic rite following the opening of a dedicated undertaker in Padua. Albakii — named after the cemetery at the holy city of Medina in Saudi Arabia — is the brainchild of Niam Abdessamed, 30, from Morocco. Some 12 months ago he abandoned a degree in engineering to set up the business and has since organised around 40 Muslim funerals and 4-5 burials, with the remaining deceased being expatriated for burial in their country of origin. Services are in keeping with the many rules laid down by the Koran concerning death and the burial of the Muslim faithful, including the importance of cleansing, scenting and covering the body and the importance of burying it as soon as possible.

There are currently only two dedicated burial places for Muslims in the northern Veneto region, in the cemeteries at Padua and Verona, and, despite a growing Muslim immigrant population, local undertakers are often unfamiliar with the Islamic funeral rite.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Milan Prosecutor Calls for 9-Year Prison Term for Politician

Prosecutor says Morelli closely linked to ‘Ndrangheta

(ANSA) — Milan, January 7 — Milan prosecutor Paolo Storari asked the court Monday for a nine-year prison sentence for a Calabrian politician accused of assisting the mafia.

The request for a nine-year prison term for Franco Morelli, former regional councillor for Calabria, comes during the trial involving the ‘Ndrangheta clan of Valle-Lampada.

The prosecution also asked for a six-year prison term for ex-magistrate Vincenzo Giuseppe Giglio, accused helping the gang.

Sentences of 15 years have been requested for alleged boss Giulio Lampada and nine others.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soccer: Five More Ided for Racist Chants Against Ac Milan

Suspected of inciting racial hatred

(ANSA) — Milan, January 4 — Another five people were identified Friday as allegedly having taken part in the racist chants that caused AC Milan’s friendly at fourth-tier side Pro Patria to be abandoned.

Police said surveillance footage and testimony from another suspect cited Friday led to their identification.

Milan players walked off after racist jeers were directed at black players Kevin Prince Boateng, ‘Baye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari during Thursday’s match at Busto Arsizio, north of Milan.

The suspects, who are members of a group of Pro Patria fans, are being questioned for allegedly breaking a special Italian law against inciting racial hatred. Police said they were roughly 20 years old and were not right-wing extremists.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Court Rejects Berlusconi Claim of Bias Over Alimony Payment

Ex-premier called female panel of judges ‘feminist, Communist’

(see related story) (ANSA) — Milan, January 9 — Milan’s criminal courts on Wednesday rejected accusations from Silvio Berlusconi of bias in the ruling that saw the ex-premier ordered to pay 36 million euros a year in alimony to his estranged wife Veronica Lario.

Berlusconi said on Tuesday that the three-woman panel that decided on the figure as part of a divorce settlement were “feminist and Communist judges”.

The courts said in a statement that it “rejected with firmness any insinuation of bias” by the panel.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Letta Says Victorious PD Would Seek Monti’s Support

‘Monti is Bersani’s crutch’ Alfano responds

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — A victorious Democratic Party (PD) in next month’s election would ask outgoing premier Mario Monti to support a government under leader Pier Luigi Bersani, the deputy head of the PD said Wednesday. “We aim to win the election and after, we will ask …the centre to support the Bersani government,” said Enrico Letta.

The statement from the left-leaning PD was a surprise, given that Monti, running on his own pro-market reform ticket, has signalled he would not serve under Bersani after the February 24-25 election.

It also annoyed Angelino Alfano, secretary of the right-wing People of Freedom (PdL) party founded by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Alfano, who could stand as the party’s candidate for premier, claimed the statement indicated that Monti and the PD were working together, despite the outgoing premier’s insistence he is an alternative to the right and the left.

“It is official: Now Monti is Bersani’s crutch,” said Alfano.

“Thanks to the Democratic Party for clarity”.

The PD has a 15-point lead over the PdL with Monti 10 points behind in third, according to a rough aggregate of recent polls.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Says ‘Premature’ To Discuss Alliance With PD

PD says would offer room for Monti once it wins national vote

(ANSA) — Rome, January 9 — It is “premature” to speak of alliances with the center-left Democratic Party (PD), outgoing Premier Mario Monti said Wednesday.

His comments came only hours after PD secretary Pier Luigi Bersani suggested his party would open its doors to Monti after, as it hopes, the PD wins next month’s election.

“It seems premature to address this because I believe that we all have to take sides in the election campaign,” Monti said in a radio interview.

Monti, who took over a government of technocrats amid a peak in the euro crisis in November 2011, has been trying to present himself as a centrist alternative to the center-left PD and the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party in the February 24-25 election.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

More Rapes in Belgium

This short item from Novopress reveals the increase in rapes in Belgium over a three year period:

Between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011, 11,170 cases of rape were heard in the courts of Belgium. Heading the list: Brussels with 2,542 cases. Followed by Ghent, Liège, and Antwerp. All judicial districts registered a major increase of 20% last year.

On December 29, 2012, De Morgen (a Flemish daily of Socialist leanings) indicated:

“Every week fifty-six rapes and five gang rapes take place in Belgium. Hardly four percent of the perpetrators are prosecuted and convicted.”

The real figures are worse since some victims do not have the courage to file a complaint.

Some of the DNA evidence from the rapists is never analyzed due to lack of financial means.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Norway: Anger as Police Drop Breivik Response Probe

The family of a teenager killed by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik reacted angrily on Friday after a probe into police’s slow response to the July 2011 twin attacks was dropped.

“Apparently, no one will ever learn from the grave mistakes that were made on July 22nd, not the police nor anyone else,” lamented Alf Vederhus who lost his son Haavard in Breivik’s mass shooting on the island of Utøya.

The Norwegian police’s internal affairs unit said in a statement on Thursday that while there were serious shortcomings in the police’s response, it had dropped its investigation into complaints filed by the families of two victims because there was no evidence police had broken the law.

“I think internal affairs looked too lightly on the mistakes that were made,” Vederhus told the daily Dagsavisen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sicily Blocks Construction of US Defense Satellite Base

Protestors clash with police as construction ‘rushed’

(ANSA) — Palermo, January 11 — The region of Sicily on Friday moved to suspend US defense plans to construct a satellite communications system on the Italian island after activists blocked construction crews. The move, announced by Sicily Governor Rosario Crocetta, came after protestors blocked trucks and cranes overnight in the town of Niscemi and later clashed with police near an American military base. Builders at the site, which is part of a global satellite defense network called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), had allegedly rushed construction in recent days, according to the Sicily governor.

“The regional government finds this sudden rush to complete the project truly extraordinary,” said Crocetta. Opponents to the project say it will be an environmental nuisance and threatens world peace. Other bases participating in MUOS are in Australia, Hawaii and Virginia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Slovenia: Bad Investments, Fears Over Croatia’s Competition

With EU membership in July, Zagreb could obscure Ljubljana

(ANSAmed) — Ljubljana, January 8 — Media in Ljubljana are raising fears that Croatia could become more attractive for investors than Slovenia after it becomes a full EU member on July 1. Slovenia is already suffering from a drastic reduction of foreign investments due to the crisis.

Starting next summer, Slovenia will not be the only western Balkan country to be a European Union member, a position it has skilfully used since 2004 as a ‘bridge’ for investors in the former Yugoslav republics. Croatia could however become the region’s new star, financial daily Finance reports, not only for the new EU membership but also due to a more favourable general climate. The paper reported that, in spite of the many difficulties, investments in Croatia are carried out more quickly and in a more ambitious way thanks to tax incentives in industrial areas and a good cooperation between the central bureaucracy and local institutions — while the same cannot be said for Slovenia.

The most significant example cited is the beginning of construction work in one of the largest Ikea stores near Zagreb, an investment worth at least 100 million euros. The Swedish group has said for years it wants to open a similar establishment in Slovenia but has so far failed to do so, reportedly for the high prices of the land where it could build the mall near Ljubljana. Croatia for its part is building new roads around the Ikea store to attract a wider clientele and will even move by some kilometres toll booths at its own expense.

Meanwhile low cost airline Ryanair, which cancelled connections with the airports of Ljubljana and Maribor, has announced it intends to create its 54th base in Europe in Zara, Dalmatia, investing almost 70 million euros.

According to the president of the Slovenian business association, Samo Hribar Milcic, ‘Slovenia is less and less attractive for foreign investors and increasingly less competitive’. Since reaching independence in 1991, the country has registered a total of 12 billion euros in direct investments, 49% from Austria. Although Germany, Italy and France are its three main commercial partners, not many investments have come from these countries. Before the crisis, the most interesting sector for foreigners were banks, now in great difficulty, while little capital was invested in industrial production.

The conservative government has said it believes the only investments on which the country will be able to count in the next few years will be foreign, alongside the transfer of European structural funds. This is why it has approved a gradual plan to reduce taxation on incomes, which should decrease from the 20% of few years ago to 15% in 2015. The cabinet is also planning to liberalize the labour market which is currently not very flexible and high cost compared to neighbouring countries like Croatia in another issue making Slovenia less attractive to investors.

A number of privatizations have also been announced and should concern the national Telekom, oil company Petrol and some of the largest banks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Catalonia Prepares ‘New EU State’

CiU and ERC draft act to be approved by regional parliament

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Ciu and Erc, the two majority parties in Catalonia’s government, have drafted a declaration on the region’s sovereignty expressing the ‘will’ to exercise the right to decide to create a new sovereign state within the European Union. The three-page document is scheduled for a vote on January 23 at the regional parliament and has been handed over only to majority groups. The text states the ‘democratic sovereignty of Catalonia as a political and judicial subject’ and asks its legitimization through a referendum’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Black Teenager Punches Woman After She Calls Him a ‘Smelly Nigerian’ In Latest Shocking Racist Footage Filmed on the Tube

This is the shocking moment a furious mixed-race teenager tried to hit a woman on the Tube after she made a racist remark.

The mobile phone footage posted on YouTube yesterday is entitled ‘Racist Woman On London Train Gets What She Deserves!’

It begins a short way into their argument — after the 19-year-old aspiring recording artist had apparently stepped on the woman’s shoe.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Don’t Worry Folks — Accused Terrorist Back at Work as a Postie

Birmingham — A Royal Mail worker has been allowed to return to work despite facing terrorism charges, a court heard. Mohammed Benares, 44, is accused of having documents which could have help terrorists carry out an attack. He was suspended from his Royal Mail job after his arrest under terrorism legislation, but has now been allowed to return to work, Westminster Magistrates Court heard. ‘He currently works for Royal Mail and when we were last here he had been suspended,’ said Ghulam Sohail, defending.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Enough to Make You Shudder! Temperatures Set for Sudden Plunge to Minus 10c… As Average Heating Bill for the Elderly Soars to £1,350

Pensioners will suffer a double blow today with the arrival of freezing weather and news that their energy bills have doubled in seven years.

Forecasters say temperatures could plummet as low as minus 10C over the next few days with snow in many parts.

The cold snap will put huge pressure on the elderly who are increasingly fearful of turning up their heating because of the soaring cost.

The average gas and electricity bill for the over-65s reached £1,356 last year — more than double the figure of £669 seen in 2005.

Pensioners were forced to find £17.4billion to stay warm and keep the lights on in 2012.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Fishermead ‘Drug Turf’ Shootings: Teenagers’ Murderers Convicted

Two men have been convicted of murdering two teenagers who were shot in a “drug turf” row in Milton Keynes.

Mohammed Abdi Farah, 19, and Amin Ahmed Ismail, 18, were killed in an alley on the Fishermead Estate on 26 May 2011.

Fuad Awale, 25, of no fixed address, and Sharmake Abdulkadir, 22, were found guilty. Yahya Harun, 22, was cleared.

The teenagers were shot after Mr Farah gave away Awale’s cannabis, jurors at Luton Crown Court heard. The two killers will be sentenced on Friday.

Abdulkadir, of The Fleet, Springfield, Milton Keynes, was also found guilty of possessing of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Jimmy Savile Scandal: Report Reveals Extent of Abuse

Children as young as eight were abused by Jimmy Savile, a report detailing 50 years of allegations has revealed.

The Met Police and NSPCC outlined offences at 13 hospitals, including Great Ormond Street in London and Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds.

Some 214 crimes were recorded across 28 police force areas, including 34 of rape or penetration, the report said.

The CPS apologised for missing the opportunity to prosecute Savile in 2009, while he was still alive.

Police said the victims’ accounts painted a “compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender,” and Cdr Peter Spindler, who is leading the abuse probe, said Savile had “groomed the nation”.

David Cameron’s official spokesman said it was “absolutely right that every institution involved gets to the bottom of what has gone on”.

The former BBC presenter and Radio 1 DJ died aged 84 in October 2011, a year before the allegations emerged in an ITV documentary.

Revelations that Savile had sexually abused children prompted hundreds of victims to come forward, including those who said they were attacked on BBC premises and a number of other institutions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: MPs Call for ‘32% Salary Increase’

MPs have suggested a 32% increases in their pay to the Commons expenses watchdog, it has been revealed.

Members said they deserved an £86,250 salary in an anonymous survey conducted by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

The research also found more than a third thought they should keep final-salary pensions.

The findings emerged as Ipsa published a report on its initial consultation into pay and pensions.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: More Than 1,000 Women Suffer Sex Attack Every Day, Report Says

More than 1,000 women suffered a sexual assault every day last year — but only one in 88 rape claims resulted in a conviction, a report said yesterday.

One in five women has been a victim of sexual assault since the age of 16, with almost half a million adult females in England and Wales preyed upon every year, the study revealed.

While most of the 400,000 female victims were subject to unwanted touching and indecent exposure, one in every 200 women was a victim of rape or another serious sexual assault.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Convicted of Raping Woman as She Slept

A FATHER-OF-FOUR convicted of raping a woman as she slept has been jailed for four years.

Kirpal Singh, 34, of Great Western Lane in Barton Hill, was arrested in April last year following an incident in which a 32-year-old woman was raped as she was sleeping in a bed.

On April 13 last year, the victim had gone out in Bristol with friends for dinner and drinks, Bristol Crown Court heard.

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Man-convicted-raping-woman-slept/story-17828350-detail/story.html

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: New Year Attack at Railway Station

A MAN on his way out to celebrate New Year’s Eve was confronted by a group of Asian youths as he walked through Blackburn Railway Station and was then assaulted by one of them.

Blackburn magistrates heard Luke O’Neill was repeatedly punched about the head and face as the rest of the gang stood by laughing.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to assault.

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Planning Minister Challenges National Trust Boss in Furious Row Over Housebuilding Plans

Planning Minister Nick Boles is locked in a furious row with the head of the National Trust — after accusing him of selfishly campaigning against new housing while owning ‘at least’ two homes himself.

In a highly personal clash on BBC Two’s Newsnight programme, Mr Boles repeatedly challenged Sir Simon Jenkins to say how many properties he owns.

It comes as the government stepped up its rhetoric on the need to accelerate housebuilding on green fields.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Video: The Feral Kids Who Terrorise Our Streets: A-Level Students Filming Skating Video Are ‘Jumped’ By Foul-Mouthed Gang of Eight-Year-Old Thieves

A shocking video showing the moment a gang of foul-mouthed children aged just eight threaten and chase two teenagers through a shopping precinct has emerged.

The distressing footage shows the students being sworn at, chased, pushed, punched and kicked at by the gang of little tearaways.

One of the pint-sized yobs can be heard to say: ‘Stop pointing it (the camera) at me or I will smash it. We’ll follow you.

When one of the A-level students then asks them how old they are, one boy replies: ‘I’m eight you f****** t***.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: While Woman’s Car Was Torched Police Trawled Her Laptop for Evidence of Facebook Cybercrime

When Lesley Ross’s car was stolen she reported the theft to the police but didn’t hold out much hope of them finding it. So she decided to turn detective herself.

Her boyfriend took to the streets of Aberdeen in search of the top-of-the-range Audi and Lesley went on Facebook to appeal for help.

Soon, sightings were flooding in every 15 minutes. The Audi was still in the city and one report had it being followed by a police car.

Lesley kept up a running commentary online.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White Britons Are Now a Minority in Leicester, Luton and Slough and Birmingham is Set to Follow by End of Decade

Three towns and cities have joined London in having a minority white British population.

Researchers say more than 50 per cent of people living in Leicester, Luton and Slough are either foreign or from an ethnic minority.

Birmingham is expected to have a similar make-up by 2020.

London has already been shown to have a white British population of only 45 per cent.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Antiquities Minister, Visits to Museum Plummet

“We need foreign investment to relaunch monuments’ restoration”

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 10 — Two years on from the revolution and Egypt’s monuments are in need of a massive effort of maintenance and its tourism industry is in a state of downward spiral. Egypt’s Minister of State for Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has called the situation ‘critical’ and said that his department is making mammoth efforts to overcome an unprecedented collapse in revenue. Plans are being made to open new sites and to relaunch restoration projects with international backing. But is big exhibitions abroad that are the “best ambassadors for this country”, Ibrahim told local publication Al Ahram Hebdo. Only a few months before the 2010 revolution proceeds from museum tickets sales in Egypt totaled 1.6 million euro. In November 2012 they had shrunk to 450,000 euro.

In Alexandria, “the national museum pulls in a little less than 300 Egyptian pounds, or 35 euro a day in tickets sale, while the Egyptian Museum in Cairo last year sold 550 tickets a day.” In the heyday of Egyptian tourism the museum attracted 6,000 visitors a day. “We’re working day and night to improve our country’s image”, said Ibrahim.

“In recent months we’ve opened several new sites such as the Temple of Hibis in the Kharga Oasi, and the tomb of Merenptah in the Valley of the Kings”.

“Other openings scheduled between January and March include the temple of Qasr Al-Agouz — also in the Valley of the Kings, and a huge restoration project on the Islamic monuments of Bab al Wazir in Cairo”. The Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor has been re-opened to the tune of 19 million euro. And the Suez Museum is set to open its doors to the public soon. Both Ibrahim and Egypt’s Premier Mohamed Morsi are counting on foreign investment to help pull the country out of economic crisis. “At the moment we can handle simple jobs like cleaning and painting. But to green-light large projects we’re relying on foreign investment”, Ibrahim said. But degradation is rife. The Muez road, which sits behind Cairo’s ancient souks was restored well before January 2011. Two years after the revolution, it is in tatters.

“Cars and motorbikes wind up and down. Streetlights are smashed, and bollards broken.” “Because of this residents have formed committees to protect tourists and help clean up the area”. ßAsked if the the return of Islam in power could have had an effect on the collapse of tourism, Ibrahim replied, “I don’t think so. If Egypt returns to stability, tourists will come back”.

Egyptian exhibitions abroad — such as an ongoing Tutankhamun exhibition in Japan, are the country’s trump card. Even in a time of crisis, many Japanese tourists have been persuaded to visit Egypt.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya: El-Mansuri: Italy and Its Investors Are Nearest to Us

Head of Development Consultancy Group(Abc), economy is promising

(ANSAmed) — Rome, January 10 — The current situation of Libyan economy is very promising in the energy sector as well as for European and Italian investors, Abdulmagid El-Mansuri, chairman of the Libyan Economic Development Consultancy Corp (Abc). “Concerning oil & gas, we are back to our old production capacity before the war, and NOC (Lybia’s national oil agency) is starting soon to open bidding for granting exploration concessions”, El-Mansuri said in an interview to ANSAmed. With regard to trade, Libya is also doing well “and market is recovering as government represented in the ministry of economy is facilitating procedures for Libyan private sector importers and exporters and supporting the role of the private sector” to facilitate foreign private investors. The interim Government in Libya, he added, “is working hard on deploying security on the ground”, starting by paying attention to the borders of Lybian economy and their security, in order to prepare the ground for European investment projects.

El-Mansuri estimates that a serious start to joint-venture and international investment projects will not begin before late in the last third of 2014, “as by then the approval of the constitution will be accomplished, as well as the election of the first president and the establishment of a permanent government”. The Libyan Economic Development Consultancy Corporation (ABC) “is the leader in its field in Libya thanks to its unique Advisory Board with members of international level, like former Italian minister Gianni De Michelis, who is now the chairman of Ipalmo (Istituto Italiano per le relazioni con i Paesi dell’Africa, America Latina, Medio ed Estremo Oriente).

“We in ABC believe strongly that Italy is the nearest to Libya”, El-Mansuri said, and “we are soon going to propose to Italy and Libya to establishing a mutual investment bank, that will finance JV investment projects of private companies working on the Mediterranean sea wealth’s (fishing etc) and in wider Africa as well”. “Other than legal, economic, banking, financial, companies incorporation, projects guidance services, ABC will also help, advise and guide the Italian companies willing to invest in Libya. We are starting a new service of due diligence which is becoming more important after the war: for example, whenever we are asked by serious Italian clients, we will give a certificate under our responsibility about any prospected Libyan partner/representative agent or about land ot buildinf ownership”.

Asked about the the National congress order to close the borders with neighbouring countries, such a closure is “a temporary one” for the sake of the security of security of an area of almost a 1,775,000 square km, otherwise endangered by fighting, smuggling of illegal immigrants, weapons, and drugs, he answered.

Finally, with regard to Italy, “Italy is already prior partner as almost 40% of our oil & gas transaction is with Italy”, El-Mansuri underlined. Besides,”thanks to the role Italy played in supporting the Nov17th’s revolution, it will be entitled to an important role in the economic sector as well, especially if companies and business men & women can avoid the army of crooks(mediators)from both countries who played a bad role in the past”. “Italian companies and their counterpart should deal directly together and avoid the mediators who may sometimes damage economic relations”. “I’m so optimistic for a viable economic incorporation among the Italian-Libyan entrepreneurs expressing that ABC will do all may be helping such incorporation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iraq: Mgr Sako: Torn and Violent, Iraq is in an “Arab Winter” For Christians and Muslims

The archbishop of Kirkuk slams the use of religion for “political purposes” and the danger of sectarian division of the country. Ten years after the fall of Saddam, the situation is worse and people are “disheartened”. He calls on the Church and the next patriarch to be sources of unity, dialogue and a guarantee for the Christian presence in the Middle East.

Rome (AsiaNews) — In Iraq, religion plays an essential role but is used for “political purposes”. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, a “sectarian mindset” has set in, pushing communal identity over national unity, this according to Mgr Louis Sako, who spoke to AsiaNews in a long interview about the recent history of Iraq, the Middle East and his country’s Christians.

Almost ten years have passed since the country was invaded (March 2003) and its old strongman overthrown. Sadly, democracy, equal rights and freedom are “dreams” and people are “disheartened”, said the archbishop of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, a key battleground between the central government and Kurdish separatists over oil.

The Christian community has been touched by violence in recent days. On Monday, a Christian woman was killed during a robbery, her throat cut. The next day, a car bomb killed a Christian medical student on his last year of studies.

Both events are connected to the country’s tense situation, with Sunnis and Shias divided by religion and Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen vying for power. For Muslim intellectuals and Christians, this is an “Arab winter,” the prelate said.

A new patriarch (to be elected in late January in Rome) will be a key figure, “father and pastor,” Mgr Sako said, with important tasks to fulfil and reforms to implement.

Mgr Sako’s interview with AsiaNews follows:

Your Excellency, two Christians were recently killed in Mosul. The current situation reminds us of the dark period in 2004-2006. How are things now?

Iraq is home to various ethnic, religious and linguistic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims.

This has been a constant headache for Iraqi leaders who appear powerless to solve the country’s problems. After various referendums and elections, handing out positions has led to bickering among them.

Protests, demonstrations and rallies are up. Threats and violence have created an institutional vacuum filled by criminal groups and extremists and this has made matters worse.

At present, no solution appears to be at hand. In fact, political and ethnic divisions seem to be getting worse. Sunni Arabs accuse Shias and Kurds of violating their rights. Turkmen appear marginalised by everyone. Christians feel persecuted.

Ten years since Saddam Hussein’s fall, the country seems worse off, even for Christians. Will things get better?

The current government has spent the past ten months trying to get its act together, and had not yet done it. The cabinet wants to do something, but others do not want to help it. A tribal mindset prevails in which everyone wants to be the chief (sheikh). A power struggle is taking place, without any clear goal. Change must come through dialogue and talks, not violence and disorder.

Religion here plays a crucial role and is used for political reasons. Secular political leaders go to the mosque, wear the traditional dress and recite the verses of the Qur’an. Laws, institutions and the constitution are seen in different ways and are a source of conflict.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, sectarianism and confessional divisions drove Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen apart. One’s identity was more important than that of the nation. Brother was against brother.

Our fear is that the country might be divided into enclaves. President Jalal Talabani’s illness and the influence of other countries in the region are making matters worse. Each group wants to impose its own agenda without taking into account the interests of others. In the countries of the Arab spring, democracy and freedom appear like a dream that will take a long time to realise. We are really disheartened!

How are rulers responding to the people?

Given the situation, ordinary Iraqis and leaders are disheartened. Starting on the path of reconciliation, of exchange towards forgiveness, is not possible.

The mindset that pushes towards vengeance is stronger than the law and legalities. Political and community leaders have no overall plan for the country’s development. Regional conflicts, power struggles and a strong political Islam mean that open and pluralistic political life, in which everyone is truly equal, is improbable.

Meanwhile the danger of Iraq’s division grows. As one of the country’s “glue”, what role can Christians play?

Partition remains a strong possibility, one that is getting stronger given the situation in Syria and Egypt. Independent political leaders do not exist. Religious and ethnic parties pursue their own interests and autonomy. The situation has been complicated by the militias.

Christians are dwindling in numbers as the exodus continues for various reasons. The Church does nothing and Christian political parties have failed in helping Christians remain, despite the possibility of making their voice heard, influence and build bridges with the other components of the nation because of their high educational levels.

Neither the Church nor Christian politicians have a real vision, a clear and detailed plan or concrete answers. Increasingly, Christians are dejected as is the rest of the population. We are disheartened! Religious freedom is not equally protected. There is a state religion in Iraq and around the region; the others are “tolerated” in the worst sense of the term.

Oil, a valuable good, causes conflict rather being a collective good . . .

Iraq is not only rich in oil but also in water, land, and could attract tourists. Under the old regime, money went to buy weapons. Now the nation is poor and the public good is not respected. People are tired and a general malaise has enfeebled the nation.

Where is Iraq in the Mideast context? What is left of the Arab spring?

The US and Western plans for the Middle East explain the situation, I think. The goal of these plans is to divide us along ethnic and religious lines. And the countries of the region are driving this project in accordance with their own specific interests.

In Syria, where it is a question of life and death, the conflict is between Sunnis and Alawis. Sadly, the West is making matters worse rather than helping. By backing the opposition, it is preventing a political solution involving all the parties to the conflict. Christians and Muslim intellectuals are in an “Arab winter”, not the much vaunted spring!

Your Excellency, how is the Church of Iraq preparing for the election of a new patriarch? What will the future have in store for you in light of the Synod and Benedict XVI’S Ecclesia in Medio oriente?

We, clergy and faithful, are praying for a patriarch that is father and pastor to everyone, Christians and non Christians. We want a man who is open and ecumenical; someone who knows how to engage in dialogue, courageous and capable of doing the right thing, like liturgical, pastoral and spiritual reforms to train the clergy.

We want someone who unites and does not divide; someone who brings together and does not drive apart; someone who knows the country’s situation and politics in the centre and in Kurdistan, someone who is aware of the challenges.

We want someone who will seek real solutions with all men of good will, someone who will work with other Middle Eastern Churches and fulfil the Apostolic Exhortation ‘The Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness’ for a better future for all.

The Holy See has a crucial role to play in all this, especially in ensuring that Christians can stay in their own country and keep their place. Card Leonardo Sandri’s visit to Iraq and Egypt is part of this. As for us, we are waiting confident in the Holy Spirit.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Syria: NGO: Military Airport in North Seized by Jihadists

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JANUARY 11 — The military airport of Taftanaz in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, was seized on Friday by opposition fighters including the Al Nusra Front after days of battle, according to the Syrian National Observatory for human Rights (Ondus). Taftanaz is the first military airport to be taken by rebels.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Israel Walls Itself in, Close Eye on Chemical Weapons

‘War uncertain, risk of no man’s land’, high-ranking official

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 11 — Faced with the brutal civil war tearing Syria apart for the past two years, Israel prefers to stay on the sidelines. At the same time, though, it is forced to keep a close eye on the latest developments in the conflict — developments which often take its own secret services by surprise.

“Our main headache,” a high-ranking military source told ANSA, “are the tonnes of chemical weapons. Who is looking after them? Who controls them? Syria also possesses some of the most advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles and sophisticated land-to-sea missiles.” This is a conflict in which Israel is not “rooting” for anyone. On one side is the “Axis of Evil”: the predominantly Shia alliance between Iran, Hezbollah and Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. On the other is a muddle of rebel forces — noted the source — including “great Syrians, patriots fighting for their country”, but also “jihadists” coming from all corners of the world. Among the latter are Al Qaeda elements, who Israeli lookouts — he added — can see with the naked eye from the Golan Heights (occupied by Israel since 1967).

From his office in the stately Tel Aviv Defence Ministry, the high-ranking official is not able to discern which side is winning in Syria (“the situation changes from one day to the next”). Nor does he feel he can make any predictions as concerns how the conflict will end. “We know that Assad is determined to fight, and that he has enough funds to pay salaries.” Assad’s weak point, however, are the Army’s Sunni units, which after so many massacres of Sunnis might revolt against him.

He noted that “the war could drag on even for years, unless the rebels find a way to kill Assad.” On the basis of other similar situations(Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, the Egyptian Sinai), Egypt feels that beyond the Golan Heights (disputed, but calm for the past 30 years), a no man’s land is being created where terrorism could prosper. Like in the Sinai, where armed groups are spreading that have ties with Al Qaeda, similar scenarios are beginning to be seen near the border fence with Syria. Israel’s military presence has already been boosted, but now the country feels it is necessary to rapidly put up a 100-kilometre barricade similar to the 230-kilometre one recently completed along the border with Egypt.

In a Middle East where Shia Islam is facing off against its Sunni counterpart, where nations imposed 100 years ago by colonial powers are being shaken to their very foundations and countries like Iran, Turkey and Egypt are once against dreaming of hegemonic region-wide projects, Israel (claims the source) does not feel the time is ripe to step into the fray. It is therefore staying out of it by barricading itself in.

In any case, Syria’s chemical arsenals (“for the time being they are still in military hands”) and the modern Russian missiles might prove tantalizing to many: for example, the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, sworn enemy of the “Zionist entity”. “And this is a development that Israel could not accept.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UAE: Dubai Aiming to be Islamic Finance Capital

Six-point strategy ready before summer

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 10 — Becoming the capital of Islamic finance is Dubai’s latest ambition, announced loud and clear in a presentation in which UAE leaders and high-ranking figures in the business and financial worlds took part.

A commission chaired by heir prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad Al Maktum will be drawing up a six-point list to be developed into a strategic platform, which will then be completed within the next six months.

“I am very optimistic,” Sheikh Hamdan said. “Dubai has enough experience, excellent infrastructure and a strategic geographic position in the heart of the Islamic world.” Some of the key points to be developed are the creation of a Koranic Council to verify Islamic finance standards, a centre of arbitration to resolve disputes arising from Islamic contracts and a promotional programme for halal (i.e. prepared and packaged according to Islamic precepts) food. What Dubai has set out to do is not impossible. The emirate — which is likely to clip the wings of a similar ambition voiced by its neighbour, Bahrain — is already starting from a good position. It has the third nation in the world in terms of volume of Islamic assets at 75 billion dollars. The first is Saudi Arabia with 207 billion dollars and the second Malaysia, with 106 billion dollars. Islamic finance has a turnover of 2.3 billion billion dollars worldwide, a reflection of the fast-growing world community of 1.6 billion Muslims. Beyond the figures themselves, the outlook for future growth is also solid: Ernst & Young has estimated that Islamic bank assets will top 1.8 billion billion dollars this year, compared with the 1.3 seen in 2011. Oil-rich Gulf countries are among the economies in which Islamic finance has branched out the most, and especially so in five sectors: banking, finance, tourism, insurance and food. In 2012 sales of Islamic sukuk bonds were at 21.2 billion dollars in the region. Given this context, “the integration of traditional and Islamic economic and financial activities will strengthen Dubai as economic capital,” said Sheikh Mohammad Al Maktum, claiming that the new strategy will not compromise the principles of openness to the free market, and that it will stimulate the entire business community of the Arab world.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Catholics in Bangladesh Hit by Land Expropriation and Forced Conversions to Islam

A Jesuit, professor at the major seminary in Dhaka, explains the difficulties of the Christians and Catholics, often plagued by extreme poverty. Conversion to Islam for marriage increasingly widespread. In the era of communication and globalization, it is urgent to focus on young people.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — Expropriation of land, conversion to Islam, deeper religious formation: these are some of the challenges that the Church in Bangladesh faces day after day. In an interview with AsiaNews, Fr. John Chinnappan SJ, professor of philosophy and theology at Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Dhaka, speaks of the problems of the Christian community, a minority of just 0.3% compared with 90% Muslim majority. The teacher engaged in social interaction and communications, describes a small church in number, but “vibrant in faith,” which, however, must act more forcefully in the field of justice and human rights. Below the Jesuit’s interview with AsiaNews.

What are the challenges facing the Church in Bangladesh?

Overall, the Church in Bangladesh is a minority. Despite this, it has a vibrant in faith. The Gospel of Jesus is rooted in the lives of Christians. In addition, it is a devoted church. Since the 15th century, with the evangelization of the Portuguese and European missionaries, there have been many expressions of faith through religious movements and associations, which have added vigor and vitality to the Church.

One of the greatest challenges for the Church is the issue of land. Most of the Christians are losing their possessions, which end up in the hands of others (mostly Muslim). In many cases, Christians have sold land in order for their children to study in big cities or abroad. Usually, when a family member moves, they do not return to their native land. In these cases, the family sells the properties and joins the relative abroad.

The Rohingya Muslims are another challenge, because they are always ready to buy the lands of the Christians. In addition, many villagers flock to Dhaka for various reasons. First, because there is more money in the capital, whereas in rural areas poverty is absolute. Thus, internal migration is rampant, but it is also growing towards other countries. My fear is that one day the majority of Christians in Bangladesh will find themselves without land, if the Church and civil society do not intervene as soon as possible.

So far, what the Church has done to resolve this situation?

Efforts have been minimal. Almost no priest or religious is committed to justice and human rights. I know of Fr. Joseph Gomes, Omi, director of the Committee on Justice, Peace and Integration of Creation (JPIC) of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In my opinion, there is a great need to help people to defend their lands. They must be educated about what how valuable it is for their lives and their livelihoods. Members of the majority community [Muslims, ed] take possession of the land of the Christians taking advantage of their poverty and their minority status. Tribal Christians are even more fragile, loosing their lands to non-Christians. So, in both the cases, Christians are on the ‘losing side.’

Concerted efforts and collective approaches have to be taken by church authorities. Otherwise, the land issue is going to be a ‘big problem’, along with other complex aspects of Bangladesh society. We are aware that it is a risky issue. The Church does not want to risk intervening in this matter. The main reasons is that church is basically centered on ‘clericalism’. However, according to me, one of the most pressing needs today is faith education and faith formation for all, notably, the youth, who need prime focus in this age of communication and globalization.

Why do you feel a greater focus is needed on youth?

My observation is that many Catholic young boys and girls are being educated growing and living with majority Muslims. There are incidents that Catholic educated girls are getting married to educated young Muslims as they do not find many suitable or educated young Catholic boys. In this way, Catholic girls become Muslims upon their marriage. On the other hand, many Catholic educated youth get married to educated Muslim young girls. In this case too, Catholic boys become Muslims after their marriage. This is a big challenge as many Catholic youth convert to Islam on account of marrying a Muslim partner.

Can you mention at least one area where the Church has made an important contribution?

One of the best contributions of the Church to society is none other than “The Christian Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., Dhaka (in brief Dhaka Credit), Bangladesh”. Let me explain. In the early fifties, the Christian Community in Dhaka City was facing a severe economic crisis. Many were forced to borrow heavily from landlords or moneylenders who charged an exorbitant rate of interest on loans (10% monthly rate of interest). It was a precarious process. In order to improve the economic life of Christians, an American priest Fr. Charles J. Young, inspired by Archbishop Lawrence L. Graner CSC, founded the Christian Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., on July 03, 1955. What started with only 50 founding members in 1955, now it has become one of the biggest Cooperative Societies in Bangladesh in terms of membership as well as capital.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Honduras Ambassador Forced to Resign Over Orgy in Colombia

(AGI) Tegucigalpa, Jan 5 — Honduras was forced to demand a resignation from its ambassador to Colombia after the ambassador’s closest advisor allegedly organized an orgy in Honduras’s embassy in Bogota on December 20. Local media reported that prostitutes were hired for the party, the building was damaged, and cell-phones and lap-tops were also stolen. Ambassador Carlos Rodriguez therefore resigned at the government’s request.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Immigration

Apartheid in Italy? A Sicilian City’s Proposal for Immigrant-Only Buses

After Pretoria until 1993, and Alabama through the early 1960’s, the Italian city of Trapani has discovered Apartheid in 2013.

The cold bureaucratic language of Trapani City Council member Andrea Vassalo leaves little room for doubts: the head of the council’s urban territory commission cited the “frequent complaints of the indigenous” (using exactly that word, indigenous) who are tired of sharing buses with immigrants going from the city center to the outlying district of Salinagrande, where there is a reception center for asylum seekers.

And so a transport service in Trapani exclusively dedicated to immigrants has been proposed for the city on the west coast of the island of Sicily. The bus would be “checked and controlled by police, in order to avoid dangers to law and order which unfortunately may arise.”

Ninni Passalacqua, another city council member, lashed out at the proposal: “We cannot think of alternative routes, we cannot think of Apartheid.”

The National Secretary of CGIL, Italy’s largest labor union, Mimma Argurio also was critical: “Rather than thinking of creating separatism, the council member should reflect on the plight of the migrants, implement integration policies and fight alongside the unions against unscrupulous employers who exploit them in the fields all day with scant protections and low wages.”

The problem regarding the coexistence between “indigenous” and immigrants on the bus, according to some local passengers, is that the bus that goes to Salinagrande is often full of people going to the reception center, some of whom “get drunk and disturb.”

Now the problem has landed in front of the city council’s urban territory committee, presided over by Vassallo. After local backlash, the politician is now backtracking. “I was misunderstood,” he said. “I didn’t want to propose a line for just black people. I did not use the word ‘black’ at all.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Indian Christian Calls on Saudi Arabia to Recognise Migrants’ Religious Rights

Detained and arrested in 2004 on false proselytising charges, Brian O’Connor appeals for openness. In his view, granting religious rights to non-Muslims would be a “positive change” for the country. A study by the Centre for Development Studies indicates that the children of Indian migrants “grow up confused,” which may manifest itself “in rebellion, school absenteeism, drop-outs and substance abuse”.

Mumbai (